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FheCreati\)eNx)oman 





SOVIET WOMEN 



WINTER 1990 




Volume 10, No. 2 Winter 1990 



The 
, Creatine 
\0oman 



Governors State University, University Park, IL 60466 - 3193 



Published under the auspices of the provosts office, 
© 1990 governors state university and helen hughes 



ISSN 0736 - 4733 



STAFF 

Helen E. I lughes, Editor 
Suzanne Oliver, Art Director 
Barbara Conant, Library Resources 
Cynthia Ogorek, Editorial Assistant 
Priscilla Rockwell, Editorial Consultant 
Lynne Hostetter, Word Processing 
Linda Kuester, Word Processing 

Sharon Tennison,Guesf Editor 



EDITORIAL BOARD 

Glenda Baily-Mershon, Illinois NOW/National Organization for Women, Oak Park, IL 

Donna Bandstra, Healthgroup International, Sherman Oaks, CA 

Margaret Brady, Social Sciences, Homewood, IL 

Rev. Ellen Dohner Livingston, Religion, Unitarian Society of Ponoma Valley, CA 

Rita Durrant, League of American Penwomen, Doylestown, PA 

Deborah Garretson, Counseling, Muncie, IN 

Temmie Gilbert, Theatre/Media, Governors State University 

Linda Grace-Kobas, Journalism, University of Buffalo, N.Y. 

Harriet Gross, Sociology/Women 's Studies, Governors State University 

Helene N. Guttman, Biological Sciences, Bethesda, M.D. 

Bethe Hagens, Anthropology, Governors State University 

Barbara Jenkins, Psychology, Governors State University 

Betye Saar, Fine Arts, Hollywood, CA 

Terri Schwartz, Psychology, Governors State University 

Sara Shumer, Political Theory, Haverford College, PA 

Lynn Thomas Strauss, Women's Studies/Parenting, Oak Park, IL 

Emily Wasiolek, Literature, Prairie State College, Chicago Heights, IL 



PAGE TABLE OF CONTENTS 



3 About the Guest Editor - "A Different Kind of Preparation " 

4 Introduction to Soviet Women - Sharon Tennison 
6 Zenaida Turyaeva 

8 Tatiana Panyina 

12 Larissa Vasilyeva 

15 The Voice of Love , a poem by Larissa Vasilyeva 

16 "I Stand As Witness... " A Tribute To Anna Akhmatova by Larissa Vasilyeva 

22 Women of Consequence, USSR: An Albumn of Photographs by Marylu Raushenbush 

22 Medea Djaparidze 

23 Tatiana Shurgaeva 

24 Maia Leosk and Valentya Matvienko 

25 Victoria Siradze and Doctor Nina Djavakhishvili 

26 Vilve Unt and Ludmila Petrushevskaya 

27 Larissa Malevannaya and Natela Lagidze 

28 Doctor Larissa Nezhinskaya and Zoya Boguslavskaya 

29 Hands Across The Sea - Three Stories of Citizen Diplomacy 

29 On The Night Train To Leningrad With The Armenian Ice Skaters by Etel Billig 

31 A Letter From Nina Andreyeva After Her Month in The U.S.A. 

31 Soviets Meet Middle America by Mary Sue Perm 

34 Sofia Wishkind, Artist 's Statement 

35 Sofia Wishkind, Reviewed by Ruth Aizuss Migdal 

37 Soviet Women: A Selected Biography by Barbara Conant 

38 Book Review: The Women's Decameron, reviewed by Mary Sidney 

40 Book Review: Five Sisters, Women Against The Tsar, reviewed by Margaret Matchett 

42 Letters To The Editor 

44 Announcements 

45 Editor's Column 



The Creative Woman is published three times a year by Governors 
State University. We focus on a special topic in each issue, presented 
from a feminist perspective. We celebrate the creative achievements of 
women in many fields and appeal to inquiring minds. We publish 
fiction, poetry, book reviews, articles, photography and original graphics. 



Cover photo of Tatiana Shurgaeva 
by Marylu Raushenbush. 



ABOUT SHARON TENNISON, 
GUEST EDITOR 

A Different Kind of Preparation 

Some women plan their life track from their 
teens, others have it orchestrated for them by 
society, and some like our guest editor respond 
to an internal radar that is forever giving unlikely 
signals going in questionable directions. 

Early in life, Sharon was always the child ques- 
tioning local values and asking difficult ques- 
tions. Why don't the black children go to school? 
Why does God save heaven only for the people 
who know about him? Who decides who lives in 
the big white house up on the hill and who lives 
in the shacks? In a small town of Kentucky, such 
questions weren't welcomed. 

An early marriage and motherhood at age twenty 
set Sharon's adult mold. From the moment she 
looked at her first child and thought "How can I 
teach you what is of value if I don't know my- 
self," she embarked upon on a self-imposed, 
home-learning plan that eventually covered art 
history, geology, politics and philosophy. 

Sharon was forever rescuing the disadvantaged 
and despairing. In the 60's she was organizing 
the integration of public schools in Dallas, Texas 
and standing in rainy Viet Nam rallies. Her 
unsolicited radar continued to scan, and some- 
thing within pushed to find answers or to make a 
difference in a seemingly senseless world. 

At the age of thirty-five, an abrupt onset of 
depression set in. The lack of a belief system, a 
sense of futility about life, and a realization that 
nothing she could do could make a difference, 
became unbearable. A long, bleak and disabling 
period ensued. 

Two years later, a brief spot of relief was experi- 
enced - perhaps only a few minutes, but that 
blink of light was so qualitatively different that it 
brought hope to her darkness. 

Sharon's next five years were spent plumbing the 
worlds' spiritual and philosophic literature. The 
outside world lay dormant - and the inner world 
expanded. Missing pieces of the human puzzle 
were found. The abyss had been dealt with - Life 
became still, accepting, hopeful, and open. 

Beginning in 1980, a new energy stirred. The 
external world became more relative and the old 
resident radar began scanning again. The ques- 
tion that haunted her in this new period was, 
"Why do Soviets and Americans have to be 



enemies?" This time the move to action seemed 
different - like a recognition of possibility and 
service rather than indignation. 

Sharon Tennison has been to the Soviet Union 30 
plus times in the past six years. She has success- 
fully negotiated and carried out joint projects 
with the Soviet Ministry of Health, the Union of 
Writers, the Soviet Peace Committee, The Foun- 
dation for Social Inventions and numerous other 
Soviet formal and informal organizations. She is 
the founder and president of the Center for US- 
USSR Initiatives (CUUI), the largest citizen 
diplomacy organization in the field. Sharon 
negotiated a project to take Alcoholics Anony- 
mous to the USSR in 1985, and the first A A 
meeting was held in the USSR on April 6, 1986. 
The program continues - now in four Soviet 
republics. Sharon conceived the "Soviets, Meet 
Middle America!" program which placed 350 
Soviets in 250 American communities in 1988/89. 
They stayed in American homes, attended city- 
wide potlucks and spoke at local Rotary Clubs. In 
1990, CUUI will take forty groups of Americans 
to the USSR, and will bring scores of Soviets to 
the USA for participation in joint programs of 
enterpreneuring, sustainable agriculture, and 
environment. Funding comes from thousands of 
Americans across the country and from founda- 
tions such as the Columbia Foundation, Public 
Welfare Foundation, and the Charles Stewart 
Mott Foundation. 

When asked to help with this issue, Sharon 
wrote, "It became clear that the Soviet- American 
arena was the direction in which I was being 
catapulted. By 1983, at the age of 47, 1 was in the 
USSR, walking the streets, experimenting with 
Russian words and trying to learn about the 
'enemy'. Instead of adversaries, a society of 
people was discovered, which at any time their 
surface was scratched, I found the simplicity, the 
depth and the soul for which I had been search- 
ing all my life." 

"I stood silent before the Mother statue at Piska- 
royevskaya in Leningrad and committed to work 
toward reconciliation of our two peoples until the 
enmity disappeared or, God forbid, until we 
perished together - which at the time looked 
rather probable." 

"Thus began the saga - and with it an endless 
fascination and admiration for the unconsciously- 
held spirituality embodied in Soviet people - par- 
ticularly their women to which I devote my 
humble impressions on the following pages." 



SO VIET W O M E N 



INTRODUCTION 

Sharon Tennison 



I am humbled at the prospect of being a voice for 
Soviet women. I am not an authority on them, 
but merely an observer and admirer of this 
special breed of human beings. Even after years 
of intimate friendship with Soviet women, I am 
still learning why they are who they are and 
what historical factors influence their consciously 
and unconsciously-held beliefs and values. I 
admire them more with each year. 

We Americans know precious little about the 
peoples of the USSR and less about their women. 
For forty years we had no access to their human 
side. We perceived Soviets as a faceless mass of 
people with few feelings or human qualities. 
Reason, if we had applied it, would have told us 
differently. 

First of all, Soviet women are grounded irrevoca- 
bly in their tumultuous past - they carry their 
harsh history in their bones. For seven centuries 
governments, both external and internal, have 
ruled them with an iron hand. First, the Mongols 
in the 12th Century, then successions of Euro- 
pean princes, then the likes of Ivan the Terrible, 
the Romanovs and most recently Stalin and his 
henchmen. 

In the midst of continuous repression, Russian 
people were vicariously experiencing magnificent 
architecture, art, music and ballet, thanks to Peter 
and Catherine who brought the finest of Euro- 
pean classicism to Russia for their private enjoy- 
ment. In addition, some special genius in the 
land emerged as Russian authors, composers and 
poets whose spirits continue to spring forth in 
every new generation. 

The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 brought both 
liberation and chains to Russo-Soviet people. 
Their ordinary women were given equality (by 
Soviet terminology), allowed to go to the univer- 
sities, guaranteed equal pay for equal work, and 
permitted advancement in formerly all male 
professions. A standardized classical educational 
system was launched. Young women trained in 
pedagogy willingly went to far away places like 
Sakhalin Islands and Uzbekistan to eradicate il- 
literacy and "help build socialism." Childcare 
centers were built for working mothers. Under- 
ground metros and autobus systems carried 
citizens back and forth across the large cities. 
Medical care was free. Labor laws forbade child 
labor and guaranteed a 41 hour work week, 



retirement at age 55 years and four months paid 
leave for pregnancy. 

The chains Soviet women endured were the 
same as the rest of their society during the years 
between 1924 and 1940. The Communist party 
quickly evolved into a new brand of tyranny. 
Independent thinking was not tolerated. Party 
bosses had the power to imprison, exile and 
terminate life. Many women went to the "camps" 
and were never heard of again. Other watched 
quietly and helplessly as their fathers, brothers, 
husbands and sons were whisked away, never to 
return, after the dreaded knock at the door. 
Many were convinced that their loved ones must 
have done something wrong, or that the benevo- 
lent State had made a horrible mistake. 

In 1941, Hilter began moving 8.5 million Nazi 
soldiers through Soviet territory without provo- 
cation. Mercilessly, they pushed through coun- 
tryside, villages, towns and cities. All adult men 
went to the front leaving women to protect the 
cities and children. Soon, Soviet women donned 
uniforms, flew planes and took up guns. As one 
Soviet woman who protected Stalingrad in her 
20's said, "We young women were forced to the 
horrible task of taking life. It was against our 
very nature, we who are the givers of life." 

Surviving the war was as much the work of 
Soviet women as Soviet men. Mothers boiled 
leather belts and cooked wallpaper for nourish- 
ment. The children succumbed earliest to starva- 
tion and freezing. By 1945, twenty million men, 
women, and children had been annihilated. No 
Soviet family remained untouched. Tired, hungry 
and manless, Soviet women labored to recon- 
struct their world - clearing rubble, mixing 
mortar, and laying brick after their daily work. 
No one complained, they say, so happy they 
were to have life and to see Spring again. 

Postwar Soviet life after 1945 was predictably 
harsh. Stalin closed off the wounded Soviet 
Union from the rest of the world - it had to 
recover alone. The barest of necessities were 
available. True to their character, even then the 
symphonies played, children took ballet lessons, 
people held poetry readings, and workers began 
restoring their magnificent architecture of the 
past. 

News from the outside world was forbidden. 
Paradoxically, the Soviet educational system was 
internationally oriented. Throughout the country, 
Soviet children were learning English, German, 
Spanish and French. Soviet literacy became the 
highest in the world, and reading of classical lit- 
erature became the pastime of ordinary people. 



Soviet women, of course, have been permeated 
and molded by the tragic nature of this history. 
They have been victims and survivors but never 
perpetrators. As women, they have born the 
brunt of whatever the society was forced to 
experience. The cumulative effect upon Soviet 
women has produced an endurance, a patience, 
and an acceptance of life. Despite this, or because 
of it, they are blessed with a wonderful ability to 
extrude the most from human relationships. 
Soviet women break into laughter easily, speak 
of life's deep issues quickly, and without thought 
take responsibility in any situation in which they 
find themselves. They have been forced to de- 
velop tough fiber, but they clothe it with a 
marvelous grace. 

Family relationships provide enormous value for 
Soviet women. Bonds between sisters, mothers, 
and daughters are particularly close - frequently 
two or three women appear to operate out of one 
psyche. Bonding with male family members 
seems equally close but qualitatively different. 
Today's young women rail at the traditional 
fawning of Soviet mothers over their sons when 
they are growing up. Such young men are irre- 
sponsible and non-assertive, they complain. 
Older women shrug and remark that it is a 
remnant of the war - the few men who returned 
were treated as kings and male children still 
share in the legacy. 

The new breed of Soviet women are bright, 
educated, and independent. Many are choosing 



to stay single and some are choosing to bear 
children out of wedlock. Others are shedding 
their less responsible mates and rearing children 
alone. "Why should I have a grown child on my 
hands!" remarked one young professional Soviet 
woman. Glasnost has given them the final per- 
mission to exert their intelligence in their society. 
For decades equality was understood as "some 
are more equal than others." For sure, men were 
more equal than women - even though affirma- 
tive action included an appropriate number of 
women in seats appointed to the Supreme Soviet, 
etc. 

It is safe to predict that Soviet women will exert 
a new energy in the USSR post-glasnost. It will 
be very different from male energy. Spirituality 
and honesty in public life will be demanded. 
They are weary to the bone of the old ways 
which haven't worked. Soviet women are eager 
for partnership with American women. They 
want information on the running of women's 
organizations, and they want to exchange news- 
paper columns, magazine articles, journalists, 
entrepreneurs and working women. 

I hope these interviews with a small sampling of 
Soviet women — a linguist, a poet, a journalist, an 
anthropologist — will inspire you to become a 
part of the rapprochement between our two 
nations in this historical moment. There has 
never been such a ripe time for cooperation 
among the women of our two countries. 




The blending of official and unofficial Soviets — Vladimir Shestakov, Soviet citizen diplomat, assists Leningrad 
Television journalists with a television series on "peoples ' diplomacy. " Together with Sliaron Tennison, Director 
of the Center for US-USSR Initiatives (CUUI), they interviewed Soviets in their streets, churches and homes. 
The Winter Palace and Neva River are seen in the distance. 



Zenaida Turyaeva 

Professor of Linguistics 
Department of Pedagogy 
Leningrad University 
Leningrad, USSR 




Zenaida Turyaeva 

I first saw Zenaida in action in 1986 when she 
chaired a discussion for the Leningrad Women's 
Committee and an American delegation from the 
League of Women Voters. She was honest and urgent 
about the political situation between the USA and the 
USSR and her desire to get women of the two coun- 
tries together. We caucussed for hours over the status 
of women in each of our countries. The session ended 
with Zena's passionate call for women to take charge 
saying, "This business of war is a man's game. A 
woman would never think of planning or executing 
such a thing!" 

The moment the meeting was over, I rushed to get her 
professional card. After a short, vibrant conversation, 
she encouraged me to call her at home on my next trip 
to Leningrad. Our friendship began. 

Zena is a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine for 
me. Her fiery, feminine spirit seems unaffected by 
politics, history, shortages or the thousand inconven- 
iences that nip at the heels of Soviet life. It is clear 
that the human connection is the greatest value for 
Zena's life. 

S.T.: Zena, tell us about your work. 

/ have held my post at the University of Leningrad for 
many years. Fortunately, I have been able to travel. I 
lived in London for four months and also delivered 
lectures in Hungary and in Judea. 



S.T.: And your family? 

My first husband died when my daughter was five 
years old. She is now 29 years old and has presented 
me with Polly, my granddaughter of four years! After 
many years of single life, I remarried, a most wonder- 
ful man. I am a very happy woman. My daughter is 
presenting her candidate's thesis today. She has 
followed in my steps as a linguist. 

S.T.: Other aspects of your life that are fulfilling 
to you? 

I volunteer at Leningrad Peace Committee. It is a 
public organization. We meet with foreigners among 
other activities. It is most stimulating. I think in your 
country you have many small peace organizations, 
but for us we have only one so far. It might be differ- 
ent over the coming years because great changes are 
happening here, absolutely magnificent changes! They 
take my breath. I am so very happy that I lived to see 
them. People have awakened to a very active life, and 
it appears there were powers latent in the people 
which now have surged to the surface. 

S.T.: We in the United States find your country 
very fascinating to follow these days! 

Well, I understand. Everything is in an upheaval. We 
have come to what we sometimes call the abyss. We 
cannot progress in the old way. We really want 
changes. The restructuring is equal to a revolution. 
Usually revolutions come from the bottom, but not 
ours. Even some of our people at the bottom are 
obstructors. 

S.T.: Zena, what did the leaders of the 1917 
Revolution intend for the role of your society 
and women in particular? 

7 couldn't exactly tell you what they meant in 1917. 
What we received is very far from what they meant, I 
believe. 

ST.: But what was their intention? Christianity is 
far from what Christ intended too! 

I believe what they intended was the liberation of 
women. Well, this liberation turned against women 
largely because the Soviet woman had to combine too 
many social roles. Many of our women must fight 
alone. For instance, I had tragedy befall me. At the 
same time I had to be a mother. I wanted to become a 
scholar. Writing books was necessary as I wanted to 
build my reputation. Fortunately, I had an elderly 
woman who helped Polly and me and who lived in 
our house as a member of our own family. 

S.T.: She was treated as a family member? 

Yes, she is now 80 and my daughter looks after her as 
her own. Things have turned around. My daughter's 
attitude toward her is much better than toward me! 



She will never leave her. Those invalid homes, they 
are not good. Only now have we awakened to this 
issue. Fortunately for this woman, she lived with us, I 
paid her a salary and she saved everything she made. 
Now she has extra money for her needs. 

Back to the question about the first revolutionaries. 
Some of them were very romantic people as we now 
discover who were driven by the idea of making 
everyone happy. This ideal is old as life. Plato and 
Thomas Campanello wanted to do the same. But these 
Utopians never asked humanity whether they wanted 
it at this particular time or at this cost. There was a 
gulf between what they dreamed and what we re- 
ceived. If we count back to the position of women, 
they really got equal rights with men, but these equal 
rights very often were turned against them. In our 
echelon, not very many women are here. 

S.T.: It sounds like there was a change in law but 
not in attitude? 

No, it would be wrong to say it didn't change minds. 
It certainly did. Women became much more independ- 
ent. A lot of women then and today don't want to be 
attached to their husbands whom they don't respect 
and who very often are inferior to them. Unfortu- 
nately the reality proved to be much more complex 
than the idea. 

One thing that changed was the state of women's 
education. Today there are more women scholars, 
physicians, and engineers than men. In many fields, 
the men still hold the top positions. Some of this is 
because they spend more time on their careers, and 
women by necessity have to give more time to their 
children and families. 

Lenin was very intelligent and clever. He certainly 
was for the liberation of women. He couldn't actually 
foresee everything that would happen. I personally and 
firmly believe, that if he had lived another decade, 
things would have been very different for our country. 
There are many considerations beyond the issue of 
women. Lenin wanted Russia to be one of the free 
countries, one of the most progressive countries. 

S.T.: What did the revolution accomplish for 
women? 

/ would say the movement toward equality and free 
education. I don't know the exact statistics, but the 
average level of education of women in this country is 
higher than for men. 

S.T.: Why then, haven't women risen to the top? 

Ask them! I practically have risen to as high a posi- 
tion as I would have liked. Not because women are 
inferior in intellect! Just because men do not want to 
surrender the superior position. 

ST: To what do you attribute your success? 

To hard, hard work. 



S.T.: Did you have to work harder to get to your 
position than a man might have? 

No, it would have made no difference. At this level, it 
doesn't make any difference at all. We have more de- 
partment heads than men. In the academic world, 
women enjoy every possibility of advancement. 

S.T.: So many changes are going on in your 
world. Which of these changes do you think 
necessary? 

What I would like to have is what every other Soviet 
citizen would like. Shops full of consumer goods. 
Shops full of every food. So that I wouldn't have to 
queue up for anything. I think this is a modest wish. 
Certainly I would like that foreign travel would 
become easier, I personally think this is one of the 
rights of the human being. First and foremost eco- 
nomic changes should accompany political changes. 
Another thing I would pray for is that there be no 
turnback in glasnost. 

ST.: Zena, how did you as an expressive sponta- 
neous woman deal with the monolithic society of 
just several years ago? 

Well, this is a very, very difficult question. I have 
always tried as far as I could to remain true to myself, 
not to be a traitor to myself or another. Certainly, I 
couldn't say before what I am saying now, but I tried 
to be decent toward all with whom I worked, towards 
my colleagues. 

ST.: So keeping your opinions to yourself was 
less important than being kind and a good 
human being? 

Most certainly. And yes, I did keep my opinions to 
myself, but for instance, there was a poet who was 
branded as an imperialist writer. I personally liked his 
poetry, so I inserted it into my textbook and it was 
published. However, I am not a writer, and I didn't 
have to deal with political issues. 

ST.: In the USA and in the UK, the question of 
"reproductive rights" gets a lot of attention, that 
is access to birth control, sex education and if 
necessary abortion. What about here? 

There was a time when abortion was prohibited 
because of low birth rate, but now abortions are legal 
and free. The state has no right to violate a woman's 
right. By the way, Catholics in the U.S.S.R. are 
against abortion. Like any other church, they must be 
against abortion because it is after all, killing the 
budding life. 

ST.: And we are impressed with the resources 
and development put into your children. As you 
Soviets so often say, "the children are our fu- 
ture." 



Certainly, they are. We are moving toward better 
education. We are introducing absolutely radical 
changes. Women play a very important role here since 
most of our educators are women. We are increasing 
the number of schools specializing in languages, 
drama, mathematics, etc. We are setting up "gymnasi- 
ums" where children will be given good training in 
the humanities in particular. 

S.T.: Are you optimistic? 

Yes, actually I am optimistic by nature. But for our 
present historical moment, I personally think there is 
no way back. 

S.T.: Will ethnic unrest be a major complication 
for Gorbachev's reforms? 

It is now very difficult because we were always 
pretending that there were no ethnic differences. Now 
it appears they are very, very serious. These conflicts 
are the result of Stalin's policy. You may have heard 
how some people were relocated. I knew nothing about 
this. Bloody battles have resulted. So, actually, the 
roots were there but just suppressed. Now we are 
becoming an open society. We don't conceal these 
things. We speak frankly. Personally, I believe with 
this frankness, we will gradually find a way out. You 



must understand it is so very complex. For decades it 
was suppressed, and this relocation of different na- 
tionalities was like a blister. 

S.T.: If you were to tell women in America some- 
thing about your vision, what would you like to 
share? 

Lots and lots of things. I would like our children to 
have as many contacts as possible. This is the first 
thing. Then I would like American and Soviet women 
to come together and discuss issues just as we are 
doing now. And if you had more time, I would shower 
you with questions too, because I would like to know 
how your side deals with the problems common to 
women. We could discuss political and philosophical 
issues, but also "how do you deal with your hus- 
bands?" Just very simple human issues. But actually, 
I would start with questions about our children and 
with our position in life. What can we women do to 
preserve life on this planet? Ecology, I believe we 
women should be particularly involved in this issue. 
We are responsible for the children, and they suffer 
most because of all these ecological catastrophes and 
dangers. So do tell American women that I would like 
us to come together. And if you have such a meeting, 
don't fail to invite me! 




TATIANA PANYINA 

Tatiana (Tanya) Panyina, is included in these inter- 
views because she is representative of a new breed of 
young, assertive Soviet women. At 35 years of age she 
is a professional woman, a single mother, and she is 
totally self-sufficient. She is vitally active in pushing 
Soviet society to demonstrate perestroika. Her news- 
paper columns carry previously shunned issues to 
millions of women readers. Tanya's friend, Polina 
Demenchenko, is a cultural anthropologist. 



S.T.: Tanya, tell us about your professional work. 

Tanya: My background is as a journalist and my 
newspaper is the Sovietskaya Rossia. Sovietskaya 
Rossia and Pravda are the two newspapers of the 
Central Committee. The daily circulation is about 7 
million. I write about women's issues, family, children 
but mainly abnormal childhood problems, mental 
retardation, etc. Perhaps it is close to "Living" section 
in your newspapers. 

S.T.: What social concern have you most recently 
covered? 

Tanya: I've just written about orphaned children with 
physical and mental defects, advocating that instead of 
raising these kids in orphanages, collectives, etc., that 
the government give these children to the church to be 
raised by nuns. They'll get closer attention. I'm 
advocating taking them out of the institutions and 
getting them into more of a family, warm situation. 
So it is sort of half way between the family and the 
institution. This would be a totally new solution for 
us. 

Polina: She is one of the initiators of the new Associa- 
tion of Women Journalists. It's an international press 
club, initiated by the Soviets, but not just for Soviet 
journalists. They've invited women correspondents 
from many countries. They went to Ryshkov, the head 
of the Council of Ministers and raised the question of 



launching a magazine like the one you described, The 
Creative Woman, for professional women, women in 
the arts, etc. Womens' magazines in our country have 
always been for farm women or working class women. 

S.T.: How are women faring in political life? 

Tanya: Even though we have this process of per- 
estroika, the results so far are not all that great. In 
fact, we women have had very sad results in the 
election (Mar. '89). Women lost their seats in the 
parliament. We were very active in the nominating 
meetings and in the early stages of the election. At the 
various rallies and demonstrations would be seen an 
abundance of women - a lot of women with children. 
Campaign organizers were women in many cases. In 
past elections, women were seated on a quota system. 
There would be 30% women, so they made sure 
women were there. 

This time it was sort of a free for all election and 
women didn't get in. None of the republics like 
Moldavia, Latvia and so on, had women as candi- 
dates. Moscow had only two. The fact that women got 
in is mainly due to the official, public organizations 
that got them in. This is the first time that elections 
were set up without any preset margins about the 
amount of women, men, age, or members of the party. 

S.T.: So, this election said something about the 
society's preference? 

Tanya: / want to point out that the results of the 
election have been a true reflection of the realistic po- 
sition that women have in this society. Over half of 
the voters are women. Women didn't vote for women. 

There were large numbers of women in the Supreme 
Soviet before, but they had no real role. They were 
just faceless representatives of official organizations. 

The foreign women ask us why there are not women 
in the Politburo. I answer I don't know! Even in 
Moslem and third world countries women are heads of 
governments. Margaret Thatcher, I think, became 
Prime Minister not because the English people decided 
they wanted a woman. She is capable. It should be 
this way! 

The reality is that the Soviet woman does not have 
equal opportunities. Theoretically she does, but in 
reality she does not. She is so bogged down in every- 
day life, chores, which is very hard. All the social 
problems that have accumulated in our society, they 
are especially hard on the women. Women don't have 
the time and possibility to develop themselves in poli- 
tics. Very often when a woman does manage to do 
that, she cannot manage both her house and her job. 
So she either loses her family or she loses herself. At 
first we had a great deal of help in this perestroika. 
The candidates put forth tremendous speeches what 
they would do for women. Now we don't know. 



We are in a transitional period. A very serious 
economic situation has developed. Many more short- 
ages have arisen and people's mood has worsened. 
Everyday life has become even more difficult than 
before. We don't have detergent for washing clothes 
and many other things. Even despite these difficulties 
like never before, many people are optimistic. There's 
a new feeling, a new hope. Another reason for the 
optimism is that for so long we were hungry, not for 
food, but for truth. And this politically healthy atmos- 
phere has made a difference. We don't have another 
alternative. Though we are not where you in America 
are, it is healthy for us. 

S.T.: It is unfair to judge your country and your 
social process by American standards. 

Tanya: Human psychology is such that one always 
compares oneself to his neighbor in order to under- 
stand where one is at, ...Let met tell you what ordi- 
nary, simple Soviet women say about American 
women: "Of course they can go and be in these 
demonstrations and lie down in front of nuclear 
power stations because they don't have to stand in 
lines or cook and clean like we do and spend so much 
time on it. They have the time to do it. The American 
woman doesn't have to think all the time about where 
to buy this and buy that, she doesn't have ration cards 
for sugar, and so she has more time to give herself up 
to those other things." 

S.T.: For millions of our women that's not true. 

Tanya: Even though I realize that this wave of 
admiration for American society, American women, 
etc. is exaggerated, extreme and not altogether justi- 
fied, you are still so much better off than we. For so 
long we were told how bad capitalism was, how 
difficult it was and how we were much better off. But 
our authorities don't tell these things any longer. 

S.T.: If the comparisons make Soviet women 
envious, then more realistic information about all 
our women needs to be given through your 
newspapers. 

Tanya: It isn't envy we feel so much, but aspiration 
to be like American women. 

S.T.: Unfortunately, the solving of material 
problems doesn't solve many human problems. 

Tanya: It's one thing when your material problems 
are that you don't have enough money to pay for a 
five-room flat. That's an American problem. Here 
you're talking about material problems you cannot 
even imagine, like a family of 8 living in a small little 
room. In yesterday's Pravda there was a picture of a 
family all crunched up in one room. They've been 
living there for about 20 - 21 years. 

ST.: But Tanya, we have some similarly dreadful 
living situations also. And of course we have 
people who have no roof at all. 



Tanya's friend: J think there is a difference between 
American poverty and Soviet poverty. We get by on 
very little, but most everybody has a roof and some- 
thing for the mouth. But they can never do any better. 
But in your country a few have nothing, I know, I 
have heard about it. And it causes crime, yes? 

ST.: I live in San Francisco near Golden Gate 
Park. There is plenty of food in the market near 
my flat. I have adequate money to purchase 
food. However, in the evening, I don't risk 
walking to the market nor do I walk in the park. 
Homeless people live near my house. They are 
hungry and sometimes rob passersby for food 
and drugs. I am a brave woman who walks all 
over your cities late at night and hitches rides 
with strangers on your streets. 

Tanya: For us, we are not able to see it for ourselves. 
You can come here and see us and make up your own 
minds, but few of us can go see you. Foreigners 
indeed laugh about our naive images of Americans, 
our unrealistic images of your society, but it's because 
we have not the freedom to go see for ourselves. And 
then, Soviet women sometimes think, "Maybe we are 
poor but at least things are calm, we have a quiet life 
here." 

But crime is increasing in our country now. Maybe 
all of that existed before but we just didn't hear about 
it. We never had crime reports. Nine crimes were 
reported last week! (in Moscow, a city of 9 million). A 
few months ago it was 4 or 5. But mainly it is a man 
kills his wife or drunks get in a fight. ..things that 
don't affect the average person. Maybe we glorify you 
and envision only what we want to. 

S.T.: We have some material advantages but we 
also have profound moral problems that you do 
not have here. It sometimes disappoints Soviets 
to find out that I live in a communal flat. 

Tanya: J don't think they get disappointed, I think 
they just get very surprised to hear that Americans 
live with each other like we do. When I hear you live 
like I do, I know we have the same problems and that 
we understand each other better. 

ST.: Are Soviets interested in developing private 
enterprises themselves? Sometimes I wonder how 
difficult it will be. Professional people think 
"Somebody else is supposed to do that. Some- 
body is supposed to put the skirts in the stores. 
Somebody is supposed to provide food for the 
shops. I shouldn't have to do that." My concern 
is that maybe nobody else can do it. Maybe the 
only salvation is for individuals, small groups at 
the bottom to do things like grow food, make 
skirts because they won't be available any other 
way. 



Tanya: Yes, it's an accurate observation. That's our 
tail from the past. For generations we are so accus- 
tomed to the fact that taking initiative was punished. 
Any kind of informal organization, non-official 
organization just 3-4 years ago was inconceivable. 

Polina: And I'll tell you something further, that there 
are still people who disagree with all this. You see all 
sorts of criticism in the newspapers against these 
informal, unofficial organizations. There are some real 
angry bureaucrats who lash out and you wonder how 
much strength they have. 

Tanya: She speaks of the bureaucrats in our public 
organizations or apparatus organizations where they 
got salaries and were paid by the state to say OK. Of 
course they didn't raise any controversy. They were 
totally dependent on the state for their salaries and 
their existence. They had it easy for many years, of 
course, they don't want it to end. 

ST.: Back to the "cooperative" subject, are any 
women creating cooperatives? 

Tanya: Yes, some dealing in modern women's and 
children's clothing. The motivation is purely eco- 
nomic. 

ST.: Many thousands of businesses in our coun- 
try have been started by two or three women. 
They say, "We need a new soap that smells 
good." So they start making it and selling it. 
Then it becomes profitable. 

Tanya: Our cooperative movement reflects the exact 
same situation as our society. The people who run the 
coops are men and the people who are doing the work 
are women! 

ST.: Would Soviet women be interested in talk- 
ing with American women who have started 
their own enterprises? 

Tanya: Maybe it would be good! We can try it. 

ST.: Changing the subject, may I ask about 
something that appears a paradox to me? I have 
noted the extremely close relationships between 
friends and family and the really touching way 
that any stranger on the street will take care of 
any child. But I also notice that adult Soviet 
strangers don't interact with each other in mar- 
kets, behind counters, in apartment hallways. It 
is as though they don't see each other. Can you 
tell me something about this cultural norm? 

Tanya: It is a reflection of our general problems. 
Thirty years ago when I was a little girl, I remember 
how people lived together in communal apartments or 
in the same building, they were like one family. 
Holidays they'd go outside and they'd all visit and 
play together. Strangers would stand at the bus stops 
and talk to each other. It changed. There was so much 



10 



dissatisfaction and discontent. The people went into 
themselves and focused only on their own personal 
problems. 

Polina: / think a lot of it was that people were just 
afraid to express their opinions. They felt powerless to 
do anything, so why should they bother somebody else. 
So when you can't talk about the things that are on 
your mind the most, you tend to close up into your- 
self. 

Tanya: / can give my own example. There is an old 
woman who lives in my building. She is 80 years old. 
There are three young mothers and three children 
among us. We're all so busy that we hardly see each 
other. We just say "Hello" and "Goodbye." So a little 
while ago, we were invited to the 80 year old woman's 
house on a holiday. She baked some pies and invited 
us. I have no time at all and I thought I wasn't going 
to go. I had to wash clothes, etc. I didn't want to hurt 
her because she's an old woman, so I went. We drank 
tea and began talking. I found out how interesting 
this old woman was and what an interesting life she 
has led. She talked about how active the women of her 
generation were. There was a general upsurge of the 
country and women played a much different role then. 

She said, "What are all of you doing, each of you in 
your own apartment, separate from one another and 
your children are also isolated from one another? They 
don't play with each other, you don't talk with one 
another." She says, "While you're at work, why don't 
I just cook dinner for you?" The last few months our 
whole lives have changed. She helps us with our cook- 
ing. She goes to the store for us. She stands in line for 
us. And she is so happy that she is needed. We are 
happy to have such help from her, but also when we 
come home, we have bigger families now, we have an 
interesting time talking to each other. Our boys 
started making friends with each other. I will write 
this story. It's a very small example of what can be 
done. 

Polina: This is a good example of what cooperation 
can give to people. We suggested in the newspapers 
that these women's groups be involved in community 
affairs, not only in regard to children and household 
problems, but also control over let's say, the grocery 
store. The state can't keep control. You can't have an 
inspector at every store, but we could do that. We 
have to take responsibility. 

S.T.: Is this new movement nationwide? 

Tanya's friend: Not now. In the early days of the 
revolution there were "Women's Councils" and then 
at one point they said "Well, everything is settled. We 
have equal rights and everything's OK and we no 
longer need these councils." And now we are trying to 
revive the tradition. 



Tanya: / believe that Sovietskaya Rossia is the only 
newspaper that has focused so much on the women's 
movement, particularly in the form of these women's 
councils. We have had huge discussions in the news- 
papers, printed letters from a large number of people 
from all over the country who shared their own 
experience with women's organizations. 

Tanya: We are so tired of formal organizations and 
this word "women's councils" which comes from the 
30's has such a bad connotation with the past. Some- 
times the very name will kill something. We have 
actually suggested changing the name, calling it 
Soviet Woman. 

S.T.: Some people seem to be pessimistic about 
change. Is this because of Russian fatalism, or... 

Tanya: It's the people that want to see food in the 
shops right now. They're not thinking about where 
society is going, what tomorrow is going to look like. 
"Yesterday we had sausages in the stores. Today we 
don't, so that means perestroika is bad. So don't tell 
me any differently." This is what they say. They are 
short sighted! 

Polina: It's true there are a whole lot of people like 
that, but I don't think they are the only ones who are 
pessimistic. The intelligentsia are also pessimistic. 

Tanya: Let me tell you the truth. My optimism is 
based on the fact that there is no way back. There's no 
other way but to go ahead.... I realize that the current 
situation is terrible, that there is total chaos. ..and the 
economy is in a terrible mess.. .but the only reason I'm 
optimistic is because I know there's no other alterna- 
tive. 

The main thing is that we have opened our eyes so 
wide. ..and we have seen so much that was negative in 
our society. ..that now we can no longer close our eyes 
again and pretend that we don't see the problems. So 
in that respect, the process is irreversible. Again, 
that's why I'm optimistic. 

I interviewed an elderly movie actress recently. We 
were discussing how young people look at the older 
generation, their mothers and fathers, who with their 
enormous enthusiasm went out on these huge projects 
during the Stalin period and did all of these magnifi- 
cent things and sacrificed their own lives in huge 
numbers for the ideal that did not come to pass. And 
so the actress says that the young people look at those 
great experiments and all that great enthusiasm very 
skeptically and negatively like. ..what fools they were 
to do it because what they did was... they just pro- 
longed a stupid system with their enthusiasm. Maybe 
society could have understood earlier that that was the 
wrong way to go. 

In this society we have these generations that are 
worlds apart in their opinions about how history was 



11 



made in this country. We have this gap in skepticism, 
but we are only going to be able to go forward when 
we are able to tolerate one another, to have tolerance of 
those differences and not make that a point that 
separates us from the older generation. Nobody wants 
to think that they lived their lives in vain. ..that all 
that they did just made things worse. You can imag- 
ine what a tragedy it is for the older person who gave 
up everything and then suddenly his children say to 
him, "Why did you do that?" 

ST.: How painful this must be for them... 

Tanya: A person has only one life, and it's almost 
over for so many of that generation. Let them live and 
die in peace. We are not going to build a new society 
on the basis of confrontation. It's time we stopped 
looking for enemies and blaming. 

S.T.: Another change of subject.. .Would some 
kind of sister partnership with Americans be 
interesting to Soviet women? American women 
in very small numbers sometimes take responsi- 
bility for a particular need in their town or city. 
At the same time it provided them money and it 
provided services for other people. They become 
very successful. 



Tanya: We need information about how you organize 
and how you go about these things. I would publish in 
my newspaper any ideas or information that these 
women would bring. We won't go to an official public 
organization with these women, not to the Soviet 
Women's Committee, not to the Peace Committee. 
We'll go to some enterprises, to some workshop where 
the ordinary women are working. 

So many of our women say so often, "Oh, how can we 
even hope to be like them? We're so far away from 
them. We are so unlike them." You are not going to 
bring women in mink coats, please. I think if you will 
bring simple, good women here, they can feel them- 
selves equals. Then they'll say, "Oh, American 
women aren't too different from us. Let's work to- 
gether, we all have the same problems!" 



LARISSA VASILYEVA 

Poet and Conscience of Women Writers 
Member of Soviet Union of Writers 
Graduate of Moscow University 
Moscow, USSR 

/ met Larissa in Southern California in 1985 on her 
first trip to the United States. We stayed together four 
days at a monastery in the Santa Barbara hills, an 
incongruous place it seemed. I was taken by this full- 
bodied, deep-voiced, humane woman. She used broken 
English and lots of body language to communicate her 
depth of feeling about things substantive and re- 
mained silent otherwise. Her eyes seemed to take eve- 
rything in. Often I wondered what our world looked 
like to her. ..was her great heart comfortable with us? 
Like a sphinx she seemed, older than her forty years 
and wiser than I could imagine... 

Later in the year I was invited to her three-room 
apartment in North Moscow. Walls of books, icons, 
paintings and treasures from the villages fill every 
inch. Larissa's husband, Oleg, is the editor and chief 
of Foreign Literature Magazine, a prestigious monthly 
publication with a circulation of 330,000 that brings 
foreign books to Soviets in serial form. 

Each visit to the Vasilyev home has expanded my 
appreciation of these Soviet intellectuals whose lives 
are the embodiment of classical culture. The Vasilievs 
are living contradictions of American's superficial 




12 



stereotypes. They come from peasant stock. On their 
living room wall hangs a famous icon whose healing 
power saved Oleg's grandmother's village. Oleg is a 
Communist party member, his mother a believer. 
Larissa's father was the inventor of the famous W W 
II T-34 tank which was credited with turning the tide 
for Soviet land forces. He, too, was a Communist. A 
German painting hangs over their sofa. Lighted 
candles hang in corners. Delicious pastries and hot tea 
always grace their table. The conversation is deep and 
straight to the heart. "Now that you have seen us and 
our problems, what do you think of us?" asks Larissa. 
It is impossible to think or speak superficially in the 
Vasiliev household. 

S.T.: Larissa, rumor has it that you have initiated 
a Women's Union of Writers in Moscow... 

Larissa: - Yes, our women feel not very happy now, 
because our country is full of infractions, problems 
and contradictions. But if you know our problems, 
you will know this: women are not on the stage today. 
If they are on the stage, they mostly look like men; 
they have men's minds. 

And in different parts of life women keep silent. But I 
think that if only women just now would take each 
other by the hands, it could change something in this 
world. Every small family is a drop of the ocean. If 
this drop is not in good condition, the whole ocean is 
dirty. Women must help like a woman, not like a 
member of the Party or a man; only like a woman in 
her original, native position. Who can keep household 
finances in good condition? Usually the woman. And 
environmental problems... The woman keeps the house 
(world) clean ecologically. Also, in my country 
women are not involved in decisions of ethical prob- 
lems. Actually the men decide and the women fulfill 
what is decided by men. And ethnic problems...! am 
absolutely sure that (if) you are Armenian woman, I 
am Azerjaibani woman, we can understand each 
other, we are neighbors, we are women. We must 
protect the health of our children and other living 
things. I am not against you just because you are Ar- 
menian. It is not a woman's way. This is the problem 
(way) of men. But now women just absolutely sit in 
the corner and keep silent. 

S.T.: You are organizing a conference? 

Larissa: Yes, it is my crazy idea to uplift women. I 
have many possibilities. I speak to them on TV. They 
write me letters. I am a member of the Union of 
Writers. We have 1,600 women in our Union. One 
day at a large meeting of our Writers Union, I asked 
the women to come with me, that we must discuss 
something. It was the beginning. Three hundred 
women writers from all over the country will meet in 
Moscow in October this year. We will discuss the 
situation in the country and what we must do now. 
Maybe we will publish a magazine and organize not 



only an association but clubs in different parts of the 
country. 

S.T.: Are you encouraging women to get in- 
volved in politics? 

Larissa: It's near politics, but not politics. We have 
many women in politics, but it doesn't work because 
they think like men. They have men's minds, bureau- 
cratic minds. 

ST.: In Soviet society do the men listen to the 
women, do they pay attention? 

Larissa: Yes, in simple life. They usually listen to the 
woman in the family but never listen to her in social 
life. Never, though we have equal rights. And I notice 
many times when a woman is on the podium, the men 
go out to smoke. That's typical. I think maybe it's in 
our blood. ..our tradition. Your country is a new 
world. Maybe you are different. You begin on a clear 
field. 

S.T.: I think we have the same problem in our 
country. Most of the decisions in our country are 
made by men. And a woman's speech would 
probably not be taken as seriously. 

Larissa: Surprise! It looks like our country! But you 
know, when I told women that we must be together 
and discuss our problems, some of them refused! They 
told me, "We are not organized along sexual lines. It's 
not normal." Why not?" I said. They came to our 
meeting and listened. They decided to stay with us. 
But the first reaction was, "No. We are inside the 
men's world. Impossible!" But you know, it is very 
hard to be with 60-70 women and — it is very hard. 
The first time it was awful. 

S.T.: Could it be because you are all writers and 
all competing against each other? 

Larissa: Yes, because everyone of us was somebody. If 
a year ago you would tell me that I would organize 
such a thing! But our society needs it now. I really 
don't know why I decided to do it. I don't need it. I 
can continue my work. I do it with enough success. 

S.T.: It's because you care! Your poetry gives you 
away. What other kinds of writing do you do? 

Larissa: / also write prose, novels and short stories. 
Sometime ago I wrote my first plays. I love all writ- 
ing. And I yearn to publish a Soviet-American 
women's magazine. But I dream about a women's 
magazine with men represented. Men who write about 
women's problems have a different type of outlook. If 
we have both women and men, we can have many, 
many interesting ideas. 

S.T.: Have you made plans to do this? 

Larissa: No. I am free in this idea - 1 have just the 
idea. I talked to different people about it just like I am 
talking to you, like a joke. But it is not a joke. It may 
happen. 



13 



ST.: Would it be for American readers also? It 
could be difficult to market in the United States. 

Larissa: It will sell wonderfully in America if it 
becomes the magazine about which I dream. I know 
American magazines and women also. You have 
nothing of such high spiritual value. This magazine 
will have a different way, a new explanation of rela- 
tionships between people. It needs to speak of real 
issues, family, sex education, problems of single 
women and men. Maybe at first your people, spoiled 
by many, many different magazines, cannot under- 
stand the idea. But I think the intellectuals will 
understand very quickly. 

S.T.: Some of our magazines in America deal 
with these issues in a rather sensational way. 

Larissa's husband Oleg: Do you know the best 
selling new magazine in our country? It is called 
Family . Editors of the magazines are trying to show 
all aspects of family life, including sex education, in a 
serious way, not a cheap way. And religion also. And 
very frank, very candid but helpful information. This 
magazine has a spiritual quality, life's problems are 
handled genuinely. 

ST.: We have heard a lot about religion and 
spirituality from various people with whom we 
have spoken. Is there a resurgence of religion? 
And for what ages of people? 

Larissa: Yes, there is much new in our religious life. 
All ages are attending churches. Some are believers, 
others are not. It is their business. But this is our 
heritage, it is good we can be totally free in this 
opinion. 

ST.: We are afraid that something might happen 
here the same way it did in China. (Tienanmen 
Massacre, June 3, 1989 - ed.) 

Larissa: The changes in the Soviet Union cannot be 
reversed. China could not happen here. 

ST.: What role is the military playing now? Is 
there suspicion that, if the economy doesn't get 
better and the reforms are failing, the military 
could step in and... 

Oleg: The military in our history never plays a big 
role in politics. It is the other way around. 

ST.: How about the role of the KGB? 

Oleg: No. It was strong before. Your propaganda 
gives the KGB a bigger role than it actually has. The 
KGB gets slapped in the face every day now. What 
they are doing and how bad they are is openly dis- 
cussed in our daily newspapers. 

ST.: Is there any chance of the Soviet Union 
fragmenting over ethnic issues? 

Oleg: Sasha (a friend who has just dropped by) hopes 



that the Russians would fragment themselves off from 
the Soviet Union! (a round of laughter) But very 
seriously, the tendency is there for the border repub- 
lics to go their separate ways. 

Larissa: / think that Gorbachev is a player on an 
original scale. For many years he sat in the Party 
circles, very dull and boring, and saw that in the 
capitalist countries there were strikes and fighting, 
race conflicts and problems. So he did all in his power 
so that our country now leads the West in all the 
strikes, etc! Now probably he is a bit frightened that 
this play is getting out of hand. He is a person who 
came to destroy something, but not to construct. It is 
important. And just now is the time when all stere- 
otypes are being smashed. He doesn't know how to 
put it back together. ...(However) he has in his hands 
all the belts to the system and will not allow the 
system to collapse for the time being. I agree with 
Sasha that he should give every Republic full political 
autonomy. They could be tied together economically in 
a federation. 

ST.: You Soviets have gone through enormous 
changes in the last two years. 

Larissa: Yes, you know it has terribly affected our 
psyche. We don't even know what will happen next. 
Next day newspapers may tell God knows what. So 
much we didn't know. Even we thought we knew the 
secrets but so much more was yet to be known. 

We have lost idealism. You know, we are very idealis- 
tic people. We believed in the build up of everybody, 
making the "new society" in the world. We worked 
hard, we sacrificed much, all very willingly to create 
the new system of socialism. Those days were good, 
lived in idealistic work for others. Only we didn't 
know - we were in ignorance of the ways of our 
leaders, what secrets they kept, what horrible things 
they did. Can you imagine, to find out all this now. 
All we have believed in has been betrayed. We must 
find a new idealism, a new spirituality, only this can 
people live for. Human trust, human spirituality with 
no secrets. 

It will take a long time. Salt is in our wounds. 



14 



LARISSA VASILYEVA 



THE VOICE OF LOVE 



Humanity comes to the end of an age, 
And what's ahead is unknown. 
And no one is sure of anything 
At the turn of such a path. 

The world is going to pieces. 
Life is going up in flames, cruelly. 
Still in a solitary window, 
A quiet light remains unchanged. 

The glow of two hearts as one, 
Worlds dying before them, 
And the cruel glitter of the universe, 
And the fires of the earth's inquisitions. 

Step up, knock at the threshold, 
Touch the frost on the window, call out! 
And if they open - - ask for God's sake 
Not for freedom, or truth - - but for love. 

Translation by Edward Wasiolek 



fojioc 

J1H3RBM 



MejioBenecTBO uhkji saeepiiiaeT, 
m HeBeaoMO, hto BnepeAM, 
m hhkto HHnero He peuiaeT 
Ha H3rH6e TaKoro nyTH. 

Mwp jioMaeTcn, pyuiHTCH, 6beTCH, 
>KH3Hb cropaeT b wecTOKOM orHe 
HeM3MeHHUM noKa ocTaeTCH 

THXHH CBeT B OflHHOKOM OKHe, 



flByx cepfleu aapeBoe cjiHHHbe, 
nepefl hhm yracajiH MHpu — 

M MyHHTe^bHUH 6jieCK MHp03AaHbfl, 
H 38MHUX HHKBH3HUHH KOCTpbl. 

— HoAOHflH, nocTynHCb y nopora, 
Tpoiib upoxjiaAy OKua, nosoBK, 
a oTKpoiOT — cnpocH pa^H 6ora, 
He cBo6oflbi, He npaBAU — jik)6bh. 



15 



"I stand 
witness 




By Larissa Vasilyeva 




Anna Akhmatova, by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (1922). 



This article was printed with permission from Soviet Life where it appeared in July, 1989. 



16 



H 



e who can control 
woman can control a 
state," commented 
French writer Honore 
de Balzac. 

"A man who is going to do a good 
deed will always do it well if the 
woman he loves kisses him," said 
Russian historian Vasili Klyuchevsky. 

In every age and in every country 
men have thought and said a lot 
about women, studying us (scientists), 
trying to fathom us (psychologists), 
and admiring us (poets). We have 
been exalted, and our capacities have 
been exaggerated. We have been de- 
clared to be important in ways we 
never suspected we could be. 

Poets take us for heroines, pity us, 
rationalize our failings, extol both our 
dubious and our unquestionable vir- 
tues, and try to heal or to rub salt in 
our wounds. 

Women themselves have occasion- 
ally been able to seize the initiative, 
telling through their literary creations 
what we women are like ourselves, 
our feminine hearts and minds. 

There was the great Sappho. Only 
fragments of her poems have come 
down to us, like fragments of a mag- 
nificent vase that was smashed long 
ago. But her image is exquisite — slim, 
dark-haired, in a white chiton against 
the background of eternity. 

There were the romantic women 
poets of the East, who were touch- 
ingly loyal to their heroes. 

There was the hapless and hot- 
tempered French poet Marceline 
Desbordes-Valmore. 

There were the shy but courageous 
English women from the quiet 
wooded estates in central England: 
Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Elizabeth 
Gaskell, Mary Shelley. Their long 
novels read like poems. 

There was the refined American 
Emily Dickinson. 

There were women of letters in 
Russia, too, but they certainly kept a 
far lower profile than authors any- 
where else. Karolina Pavlova, Anna 
Bunina, Yevdokia Rostopchina, and 
Mirra Lokhvitskaya are a few of the 
nineteenth century examples. Their 
names are obscured by those of, for 
instance, Alexander Pushkin, Mikhail 
Lermontov, Fyodor Tyutchev, and 
Nikolai Nekrasov. 



But, as if to compensate for the 
long silence and obscurity, two 
brightly shining female stars appeared 
in the constellation of male poets 
dominating the Russian poetry of the 
early twentieth century — Anna Akh- 
matova and Marina Tsvetayeva. 

Now that we are marking Akhma- 
tova's centenary, we recognize that 
she is a star of the first magnitude. 
Her style is characterized by a sim- 
plicity that conceals great complexity. 

Akhmatova lived her entire 76 
years in her native country, and she 
followed the same path as her compa- 
triots, never sidestepping a single 
blow fate had in store for her. 

Akhmatova was born into the fam- 
ily of a naval officer in Odessa on 
June 11 (23), 1889. She studied at the 
Women's College in Kiev and in the 
law school at the University of Kiev, 
but she knew she had a flair for po- 
etry when she was still a child. Her 
first books — Evening (1912), Rosary 
(1914), The White Flock (1917)— cap- 
tured the imagination of the public. 

Her earliest recollections are of 
Tsarskoye Selo, near St. Petersburg 
(now Leningrad). She spent most of 
the rest of her life in Leningrad, mar- 
rying Nikolai Gumilyov, a famous 
poet in his own right, who devoted 
exquisite poems to her. Alexander 
Blok, Mikhail Kuzmin, and Osip 
Mandelstam dedicated inspired lines 
to her. She was idolized, she was 
worshiped, she was imitated. 

But what was it in her poems that 
moved her contemporaries so pro- 
foundly? It must have been her sin- 
cere and forceful lyricism, based on 
real life. For example: 

I've been dropped! This is an 

invented word — 
Am I a flower or a letter? 
And my eyes are already looking 

grimly 
Into the tarnished mirror. 

Strangely, this early poem already 
foreshadows the woman who would 
have to bear a crushing burden in the 
period of the Soviet Union's trials and 
tribulations. 

It is anyone's guess how Akhma- 
tova's talent would have developed if 
her life had continued to be a bed of 
roses. Probably, however, she would 



have found some thorns — this was 
one aspect of her poetic gift. 

But she had a difficult life. Execu- 
tion of her husband, Gumilyov. Two 
stormy revolutions. The Civil War. 
The arrest (twice) of her son. The Sec- 
ond World War. Denunciations. She 
could have emigrated, but she flatly 
refused to. Years later she wrote: 

/ was then with my people 
Where my hapless people were. 

She was poor. Her poems seemed 
to be out of tune with the new times. 
Gumilyov was accused of a counter- 
revolutionary plot and executed. Al- 
exander Blok died. Akhmatova began 
studying Pushkin, opening new, 
amazingly interesting chapters in this 
field. 

In the 1930s Akhmatova's poems 
did not find a widespread response 
because they did not conform to the 
jackboot rhythms of the first five-year 
plan periods. Akhmatova's only son, 
Lev Gumilyov, was falsely accused 
and banished to Siberia. 

World War II found Akhmatova in 
blockaded Leningrad. She became the 
voice of the Leningraders' courage. 

Finally she was evacuated. When 
the war was over, new grief struck: 
Her son was arrested for the second 
time. The Central Committee of the 
Communist Party passed a resolution 
denouncing several authors, first 
among them Akhmatova. The doors 
of publishing houses and literary 
journals, never previously wide open 
for her, now slammed in her face. 
Only a handful of people stood by 
her: They either realized the force and 
scope of her talent or simply loved 
her. A handful of friends is enough to 
survive in Russia. Akhmatova also 
survived because she had her poetry, 
her most reliable support. 

In 1953 Stalin died. A thaw set in. 
Akhmatova's son returned from jail. 
Publishing houses reopened their 
doors to her — a little. Her first books 
of poems were released after years of 
silence. Far from all were published 
though, and many of the bans were 
not lifted, including the prohibition 
on her "Requiem," a poem describing 
the grief of a mother whose son has 
been jailed and the grief of the entire 
nation. ► 



17 



To Alexander Blok 


AueKcaH/jpy Ejiokv 




Jfcs=s=- , |W' I came to the house of the poet. 


fl npniii/ia k no3Ty b tocth. 
Pobho noji^eHb. BocKpeceHbe. 
Tmxo b KOMHaTe npoCTopHOH, 
A 3a OKHaMH Mopo3 

H MajiHHOBoe cojiHue 

Ha,a noxMaTbiM anbiM ammom. . . 

KaK X03HHH MOJina^HBblH 
flCHO CMOTpHT Ha MeHfl! 




\ ~\ ^M^/B Sunday. Precisely at noon. 

x JkWf 1 ^Bl9 The room is big and quiet. 

j«jffl [^^J^iS.,;."l Outside, in the frosty view. 




am I^SSnH hangs a raspberry-colored sun 

over ropes of blue-gray smoke. 
The gaze of my watchful host 
silently envelops me. 




His eyes are so serene 

one could be lost in them forever. 

I know I must take care 

not to return his look. 


y Hero rna3a Taioie, 

Mto 3anoMHHTb KayKjxbiH AOJiweH; 

MHe >Ke .nymue, ocTopowHofi, 

B HHX H BOBCC He r/lflfleTb. 




But the talk is what I remember 
from that smoky Sunday noon, 
in the poet's high gray house 
by the sea-gates of the Neva. 


Ho 3a iiom hutch 6ece.ua, 
,Il,biMHbiH nojmeHb, BocKpeceHbe 
B flovte cepoM h bhcokom 

y MOpCKMX BOpOT HeBbl. 




— January 1914 


- flHBapb, 1914 




"I Wrung My Hands . . ." 






I wrung my hands under my dark veil . . . 
"Why are you pale, what makes you reckless?" 
— Because I have made my loved one drunk 
with an astringent sadness. 


C>Kajia pyKH no/i TeMHoii Byajibto. . . 
«OTnero Tbi ceroAHH 6ne/iHa?» 
— Ottoto, hto h TepiiKoii nenajibK) 
HanoHjia ero xtoiibHHa. 




I'll never forget. He went out, reeling; 
his mouth was twisted, desolate . . . 
I ran downstairs, not touching the banisters, 
and followed him as far as the gate. 


KaK 3a6y^y? Oh Bbiweji, waTaacb, 

McKpHBHJlC« MyMHTeJlbHO pOT . . . 

fl c6e>Kajia, nepn/i He Kacaacb, 
fl 6e>Kajia 3a hhm ^o BopoT. 




And shouted, choking: "I meant it all 
in fun. Don't leave me, or I'll die of pain." 
He smiled at me — oh so calmly, terribly — 
and said: "Why don't you get out of the rain?" 


3a;ibixaacb, a icpHKHyjia: «LUyTKa 
Bee, hto 6buio. yHfleLUb, a yMpy». 

yjlhl6HyjlCfl CMOKOHHO H >KyTKO 

M cKa3a.n Miie: «He ctoh Ha Berpy». 




—Kiev, 1911 


- Khcb, 1911 




The Last Toast 


riocjie/;HHH TOCT 




I drink to our ruined house, 
to the dolor of my life, 
to our loneliness together; 
and to you I raise my glass, 


ft nbK) 3a pa3openHbiH aom, 

3a 3J1VK) >KH3Hb MOK), 
3a OAHHOMeCTBO BflBOeM 

M 3a Te6a a nbK>, — 




to lying lips that have betrayed us, 

to dead-cold, pitiless eyes, 

and to the hard realities: 

that the world is brutal and coarse, 

that God in fact has not saved us. 


3a Jio>Kb MeHH iipextaBiuHX ry6, 
3a MepTBbiil xojioa rjia3, 
3a to, hto Mnp >KecTOK h rpy6, 
3a to, hto Bor He cnac. 




— 1934 


- 1934 





"I Am Not One of Those V 


A ho Left the Land ..." 

He C TCM11 H, Kill GpOCMJI JCMJ1K) 


^ffi^\^k£ ' am ,U)1 one °f those who left the land 


^^|i|jgs|y to the mercy of its enemies. 


Ha pacrepiaHHc Bparaivi. 


IjjSOjB Their flattery leaves me cold, 
^H§§8 my songs are not for them to praise. 


Hx rpyCxni Jiecru h hc bhcmjuo, 
Mm neceii » cbohx He ;iaM. 


WSL But I pity the exile's lot. 


HO BCHHO >KajlOK Mile liJIHailllllK, 


Like a felon, like a man half-dead, 


KaK jaKJiKHenHbiii, KaK 6ojibHOH. 


dark is your path, wanderer; 


Teivma iboh rjopora, crpaimuK, 


wormwood infects your foreign bread. 


nojibiHbK) naxner xjie6 Hywoii. 


But here, in the murk of conflagration, 


A 3/jecb, b uiyxoM na/iy noxcapa 


where scarcely a friend is left to know, 


OcraroK kohocth i\'6h. 


we, the survivors, do not flinch 


Miii mi e;iHHoro y/japa 


from anything, not from a single blow. 


Hc OTKJIOHHJ1H (IT ce6«. 


Surely the reckoning will be made 


M JliaCM, HTO B OUCHKC IU)3/lHefi 


after the passing of this cloud. 


OiipuBAait 6y;icr Kaw/ibiM nac. . . 


We are the people without tears, 


Ho b MHpc Her nvojien 6eccjie3neH, 


straighter than you . . . more proud . . . 


HajiMemiee n npoiue nac. 


— 1922 


1922 


Courage 


MywecTBO 


We know what trembles on the scales, 


Mm ?nacM, hto Hbinc jiokhi Ha Becax 


and what we must steel ourselves to face. 


H hto coBepmaercH Hbme. 


The bravest hour strikes on our clocks: 


Mac My>KecTBa upoGiui na iiamux nacax. 


may courage not abandon us! 


H My^cecTBO nac He no Miner. 


Let bullets kill us — we are not afraid, 


He CTpauJHo no/i nyji«MH yieprBbivm jienb. 


nor are we bitter, though our housetops fall. 


He ropbKO oerarben 6e3 KpoBa, - 


We will preserve you, Russian speech, 


M Mbi coxpannivi tc6h. pyccKaa penb. 


from servitude in foreign chains, 


BejiHKoe pyccKoe cjiobo. 


keep you alive, great Russian word, 


CBo6o;jHbiM h HHcrbiM re6a npoHeceivi, 


fit for the songs of our children's children, 


H BiiyKaM aanHM, n ot nneHa cuacervi 


pure on their tongues, and free. 


HaBeKii! 


—23 February 1942 


- 23 qbeBpaxifl 1942 



19 



Requiem 
1935-1940 



PeKBHeM 
1935-1940 



No foreign sky protected me, 
no stranger's wing shielded my face. 
I stand as witness to the common lot, 
survivor of that lime, that place. 

— 1961 



Hem. u He nod yyjicdbiM He6oceodo\i, 
M He nod 3aufumou uyjKdbix xpbiA, — 
f} 6bi/ia moeda c moum napodoM, 
TaM, ede mou napod, k Hecuacmbio. 6bin. 

— 1961 



INSTEAD OF A PREFACE 

In the terrible years of the Yezhov terror I spent seven- 
teen months waiting in line outside the prison in Leningrad. 
One day somebody in the crowd identified me. Standing 
behind me was a woman, with lips blue from the cold, who 
had, of course, never heard me called by name before. Now 
she started out of the torpor common to us all and asked me 
in a whisper (everyone whispered there): 

"Can you describe this?" 

And I said: "I can." 

Then something like a smile passed fleetingly over what 
had once been her face. 

— Leningrad, 1 April 1957 



BMECTO IIPEflHCJlOBHfl 

B CTpatiiHbie roflbi okobiuhhw h npoBena ceMHa/maTb 
MecHLjeB b TiopeMHbix OHepe/iHX b JleHHHrpaAe. KaK-TO 
pa3 kto-to «ono3Haji» MeHH. ToiTja cToainaa 3a mhoh 
wemiiHHa c rojiy6biMH ry6aMH, KOTopaa, kohchho, 
HHKorrja He cjibixana Moero hmchh, oHHyjiacb ot 
CBoftcTBeHHoro HaM Bcevi oueneHeHHH h cnpocHjia mchh 
Ha yxo (TaM Bee roBopHJiH ujenoTOM): 

— A 3to Bbi MoweTe onHcaTb? 
H a CKa3ana: 

— Mory. 

Tor^a mto-to BpoAe yjibi6KH cKOjib3Hy.no no TOMy, 
mto HeKorvja 6bijio ee jihhom. 

— JleHHHrpafl, 1 anpejia 1957 ro^a 




PROLOGUE 

That was a time when only the dead 
could smile, delivered from their wars, 
and the sign, the soul, of Leningrad 
dangled outside its prison-house; 
and the regiments of the condemned, 
herded in the railroad-yards, 
shrank from the engine's whistle-song 
whose burden went, "Away, pariahs!" 
The stars of death stood over us. 
And Russia, guiltless, beloved, writhed 
under the crunch of bloodstained boots, 
under the wheels of Black Marias. 



BcrynjiEHHE 

3to 6bi.no, Kor^a yjibi6ajicn 

ToJlbKO MepTBblH, CnOKOHCTBHK) paA- 

H HeHy>KHbiM npuBecKOM 6onTa;icH 
Bo3Jie TFopeM cbohx JiemiHrpaA- 
H KorAa, o6e3yivieB ot MyKM, 
ULIxih y>Ke ocy>KfleHHbix nojuoi, 
H KopoTKyro necHK) pa3JiyKn 
riapoB03Hbie nejiH ryAKH. 
3Be3flbi civiepTH ctohjih HaA Haivm, 
H 6e3BHHHaa KopMHJiacb Pycb 
FloA KpoBaBbiMH canoraMH 
H noA HJHHaMH nepHbix ivtapycb. 



20 



EPILOGUE 



3nn;ioi 



I have learned how faces fall to bone, 
how under the eyelids terror lurks, 
how suffering inscribes on cheeks 
the hard lines of its cuneiform texts, 
how glossy black or ash-fair locks 
turn overnight to tarnished silver, 
how smiles fade on submissive lips, 
and fear quavers in a dry titter. 
And I pray not for myself alone . . . 
for all who stood outside the jail, 
in bitter cold or summer's blaze, 
with me under that blind red wall. 



y3Ha;ia a, k;ik oua.'unor ;iima, 

Kuk m-iio/i bck bi.ii :im u>iBaer cipav 

KaK K.miioimcn vkccikiic cipanuut>i 

CTpaxtamie bi>ibo/uii na mcxax, 

KaK jiokoiuji us nencjibiibix u i icpm.i\ 

CcpcGpHHbiMn ;iejiaiorcH B/ipyr, 

YjibiGKa BHiici na ivOax uoKopubix, 

H B CyXOHbKOM CMC1IIKC apoVKU I IICIIYI. 

H n ivtojifocb iic o ce6e o/jhoh, 
A 060 Bcex, kto raM ctohji co mhokj, 
M b jnoTbiii xojio;i,, 11 b iiiojibCKiiii siioii. 
floxi KpacnoK) oc/ienuieK) crciioio. 



From POEMS OF AKHMATOVA, Selected, Translated, and In- 
troduced by Stanley Kunitz with Max Hay ward. © 1972, 1973 by 
Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward. 

Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company (Inc.). 



She was recognized by the West, 
receiving the Italian Taormina Prize. 
She had a grand reception at Oxford. 
The younger generation took a closer 
interest in her poems. 

Akhmatova died on March 5, 1966, 
exactly 13 years after Stalin's death. 

"The czar and the poet" is a theme 
that runs through much of Russian 
poetry. But this theme certainly took 
an unexpected turn in the twentieth 
century, when the contemporary czar 
was opposed by a woman. She pre- 
vailed despite the long odds, triumph- 
ing over the petty czar who wanted to 
defeat the woman. Such attempts 
would have looked like a losing battle 
in most cases, but 
Akhmatova was 
more than a match 
for anyone. Dead 
but eternally living 
through her work, 
she takes a fearful 
vengeance on the 
authorities who per- 
secuted her. Today 
Stalin's aide Andrei 
Zhdanov is under 
attack: Cities, 
streets, and univer- 
sities that were 
named after him 



now reject this distinction. He will be 
forever known in history as "the man 
who harassed Akhmatova." 

Such was the path this attractive 
girl from a well-educated family trav- 
eled to the summit of Russian poetry. 

What is her verse like? It is a reflec- 
tion of herself, of her great maternal 
qualities, and of our times in general. 

Strange as it may seem, women 



Anna Akhmatova with her 

husband, poet Nikolai 

Gumilyov, and their son, Lev, 

who became a historian. 




writers did not express these maternal 
qualities very often, and this theme 
always took second place to love. But 
aren't these qualities the pinnacle of a 
woman's spiritual force? Akhmatova's 
"Requiem" is the consummate ex- 
pression of a mother's grief, her lam- 
entation over her son. It is both high 
poetry and documentation of an era. 

Akhmatova is strong and assured in 
her verse, ironical to the point of be- 
ing sarcastic and taunting. Grief does 
not make her lose her calm, but be- 
neath this calm is an abyss of suffer- 
ing. She never shouts, never cries, 
never frets; she always knows how to 
convey her emotion or thought. Her 
verse is subtle. 

For me, the ma- 
jestic and beautiful 
Akhmatova — the 
years may have 
changed her, but 
they took nothing 
away from her 
grandeur — is one of 
the greatest literary 
talents of the twen- 
tieth century, this 
relentless, cruel, and 
insane age, which 
subjected her to the 
severest of tests. 



21 



WOMEN OF CONSEQUENCE, USSR: AN ALBUM OF PHOTOGRAPHS 



Marylu Raushenbush 



Artist's Statement 



This series celebrates Soviet women — women who survive, who make their presence felt, regardless of 
time and circumstance. They are women whose lives reach beyond themselves, whose photographed 
faces reveal their strengths, who celebrate their life and who symbolize our hope for peace. 

All are women I admire. Some were my friends; the others whom I came to know from behind the 
camera graciously let me slice a fleeting image from the time line of their lives. 

I hope that these photographic images reveal the inner spirit of these truly remarkable women; that they 
go beyond the ubiquitous studio portrait to provide contextual reward and artistic value in a setting 
meaningful in the life of each woman. 

In a woman's home or work place, I looked for that unique something that spoke of the person. The 
blackboard in Dr. Nataly Rimashevskaya's office had held graphs and statistics, so I asked her to draw a 
population curve. Medea Djaparidze looks over her shoulder amid shadows and photographs from a 
lifetime of acting. 

As awareness between our two great countries increases, we begin to recognize Soviet names such as 
Valentina Matvienko, Deputy Mayor of Leningrad when photographed and now chair of a committee of 
the Supreme Soviet; Maia Leosk, Deputy chair (vice-president) of the Republic of Estonia; or Dr. Larisa 
Nezhinskaya, official in the USSR Procurator General's office. 

I am always looking for the cutting edge moment in time, place, position and expression that reveals a 
woman of consequence. Ludmila Petrushevskaya, whose once-banned work is now published and 
performed, crosses her arms in defiance and triumph. 

Working with such special women, in their strength and variety, has been an exciting personal privilege. 
It is warming to know that they are but paradigms for many more women, who together will create a 
better world. 

The photographs in the Soviet Union were made possible through the kind invitation of Madame Zoya 
Pukhova, President, Soviet Women's Committee, and the skilled diplomacy and help of Vivian S. Day, 
Co-director of the Soviet Project, and Maria Lebedeva, interpreter and friend. 




Medea 
Djaparidze 



22 



Medea Djaparidze - Actress 

Known in her youth as Georgia's most beautiful woman, Medea is 
a busy stage actress whose career began when she was chosen to 
play the coveted lead in the Soviet film version of Romeo and 
Juliet. Medea then turned to the stage, where she became very 
famous. She has played Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About 
Nothing and Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion. She lives with her hus- 
band of forty years, her son, her daughter-in-law and her grand- 
children in a high-ceilinged, art-filled home in Tbilisi. Boris Paster- 
nak said of her, "In art one should throw oneself into the ocean 
and swim, and she and her husband are beautiful swimmers in 
the ocean of art." 



"If the world were run by the people of art- 
wouldn't be even talk about war." 

Medea 



-writers, actors — there 



Tatiana Shurgaeva - 
Sociologist 

Tatiana is a professor of 
Sociology at the Lenin- 
grad Institute of Electri- 
cal Engineering. As 
secretary of the Presid- 
ium of the Leningrad 
Women's Committee, 
she is especially inter- 
ested in furthering the 
cause of women's issues, 
and is keenly aware of 
the problems facing 
women all over the 
world as they juggle 
careers and motherhood. 
She hopes to contribute 
to the solving of these 
problems by her work 
with the Women's Com- 
mittee. 

"Our wild world lacks 
goodness and love. I wish 
all women more love, 
beauty, and a happy moth- 
erhood and serenity." 

Tatiana 

This photograph is in the 
Permanent International 
Collection of Polaroid Corp. 




Tatiana Shurgaeva 



23 




Maia Leosk - Politician 

Maia is Vice President of the Estonian 
Soviet Socialist Republic, which is one of 
the smallest republics in the Soviet Union 
but very important because it borders the 
Baltic Sea and is only a hundred miles from 
Finland. Maia is a village girl who began 
her political career as a Komsomol. A 
women's rights advocate, Maia points out 
that over half the work force is women and 
that of the 285 deputies of the Supreme 
Soviet of Estonia, 102 are women. She 
worries about the declining birth rate of 
Estonia. 

"I would wish that women had enough inner 
beauty for their professional life and public ac- 
tivities, and still preserve femininity and 
tenderness for their family life." 

Maia 



Valentyna Matvienko - Activist 

Former Deputy Mayor of Leningrad, in 
1989 she was elected chairperson of the 
Committee on Women's Affairs, The 
Protection of Family, Motherhood and 

Childhood in the Supreme Soviet of the 
USSR, the country's highest governing 
body. Other offices are Deputy Chair- 
woman of the Ail-Union Soviet Women's 
Committee, and Chairwoman of the 
Leningrad Regional Woman's Commit- 
tee. Valentyna is a graduate of the Acad- 
emy of Public Sciences and the Institute 
of Chemistry and Pharmacology. Since 
her youth she has been involved with 
Komsomol (Community Youth Move- 
ment). 

"I would like to see all women of the world 
liappy, not to know grief and tears." 

Valentyna 






24 



Victoria Siradze - Trade Unionist 

Victoria is chairwoman of the Georgian Republican Trade-Union 
Council. She is also a Deputy of the Supreme Soviet (Congress) of 
the USSR and the Deputy Prime Minister of Georgia. A Komso- 
mol leader, she graduated as an engineer from the Georgian 
Polytechnological Institute, became secretary of the Tbilisi City 
Council, then Deputy Chairperson of the Council of Ministers of 
Georgia, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Community 
Party of Georgia and in 1979 became the Vice President of the 
Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Georgia. A gracious leader, 
Victoria was photographed in a magnificent room off Rustaveli 
street. 

"I am the daughter of a professional revolutionary. That has determined 
my future." 

Victoria 





Doctor Nino Djavakhishvili - Anatomist 

An internationally acclaimed anatomist, Nino is 
active as director of the Institute of Experimental 
Morphology of the Georgian Academy of Sciences. 
Among her many honors is the title of Honored 
Scientist, conferred in 1965. She is the author of two 
hundred papers and books written in Georgian, 
Russian and other European languages. Her work 
has included study of the central nervous system 
and the circulatory system. Her institute also tracks 
the lives of Georgia's many centenarians. 

"Health is the most important thing. The preservation of 
life on earth. As a person who has seen war, I know the 
great hope is improved relations between the United 
States and the Soviet Union. On the relations of these 
two countries depends the fate of the earth." 

Nino 



25 




Vilve Unt - Fashion Designer 

Vilve graduated from the State Art Institute 
of Estonia and is an artist/designer in 
Tallinn, a city known for its fashion houses. 
She takes part in the Republic's fashion 
shows, and she was awarded second prize at 
an Ail-Union Competition for fashion. Her 
designs range from outfits inspired by the 
Soviet Military to children's clothes. 

"Fashions are born in Tallinn, let us make 
friends." 

Vilve 



\ \ 



• \ 



r* 




her other many 
plays are The Small 
Orchestra of Hope, 
The Songs of the 
Twenties, and 
Cinzano. One of her 
works was per- 
formed in 1988 at 
the International 
Conference for 
Women Playwrights 
in Buffalo, New 
York. Much of her 
inspiration comes 
from photographs of 
ordinary people. 

"When I found myself 
deep at the bottom of 
life, I heard the shouts 
from underneath." 

Ludmila 



26 



if 



■y 




Ludmila Petrushevskaya - Playwright 

Author and Playwright, her books are being 
published and her plays are being staged in 
the Soviet Union, the rest of Europe and the 
United States after years of suppression be- 
cause of the sharp social issues they raise. 
Here she stands before a poster of her cur- 
rent sellout play, Chorus of Moscow. Among 





Larissa Malevannaya - Theatrical 
Producer 

Larissa received her love of the theater 
from her mother, a teacher and director 
of amateur theatre productions. After 
graduation from the drama institute in 
Leningrad, she and some of her fellow 
students established a children's theater 
in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. As the theater 
became well know, she was invited to 
return to Leningrad to play leading 
roles at the Gorky Theater and to teach. 
Her students have organized a new 
theater studio as an outgrowth of her 
techniques. With her husband, a direc- 
tor, she has produced a play about 
returning veterans from Afghanistan. 

"1 was sleeping and in my dream life was 
full of joy. I woke up and saw life was a 
duty and obligation. I began to act to fulfill 
my duty, and by a miracle the duty turned 
to joy." 

Larissa 



Natela Lagidze - Politician 

Deputy of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic Su- 
preme Soviet (equivalent to Parliament), Secretary of the 
Tbilisi City Party Committee, Vice Chairperson of the 
Women's Council of the Republic. She has a university 
degree in Philology and was a trainee of the Sorbonne. 
Her education and career in politics have permitted 
Natela to integrate her love and concerns for Tbilisi with 
an international concern for women's roles in their 
societies. A frequent contributor at International Confer- 
ences, this ex-gymnast jogs to keep fit and reads litera- 
ture in French. 

"In my view it is natural for a woman to feel a sense of re- 
sponsibility for the state of affairs in her life - the family, 
children, their future. A woman possesses an innate diplomacy 
with people and her feminine sensitivity helps draw people to 
her." 

Natela 





27 



Doctor Larissa Nezhinskaya - Criminologist 

A high official in the USSR Procurator General's 
office and senior criminologist at the All Union 
Research Institute of Problems of Strengthening 
Legality, graduate of the Law School of Moscow 
University, Larissa has been to the USA five 
times as a guest lecturer. Her research specialty 
is encouragement of the universal observance of 
law in socialist society, and her work in the 
Department of Comparative Studies centers on 
the handling of criminal behavior in capitalist 
countries. She is internationally active and recog- 
nized as an expert in crime prevention theory. 

"If people are interested in finding answers to the 
why's, they will better understand both interpersonal 
and international relations." 

Larissa 




*'• - < 





Zoya Boguslavskaya - Novelist 

Author of Women of Two Worlds, published jointly in the 
United States and the Soviet Union, Zoya is well known on 
both sides of the ocean. In the US, she wrote the play Hotline, 
about emergency ambulance service. After graduating from 
the Theater Institute, Zoya wrote about theater and films, but 
it was her first book, Seven Hundred in New Rubles, which 
made her name. She has other novels published, as well as 
plays and essays. When former President and Mrs. Ronald 
Reagan were in Moscow for the May 1988 summit meeting, 
Zoya and her husband, poet Andrei Voznesensky, entertained 
them in their home. Zoya was photographed at the Writers' 
Union, formerly a 19th century mansion where Natasha 
danced in Tolstoy's War and Peace. 

"Everything passes, so we pass too." 

Zoya 



28 



HANDS ACROSS THE SEA - 
Three Stories of Citizen Diplomacy 



'On The Night Train to Leningrad with the Armenian Ice Skaters' 



Etel Billig, 

Managing Director, 
Illinois Theatre Center 



I never really saw them that night on the 
train from Moscow to Leningrad. Yet, I 
knew they were there, these beautiful 
blonde young men I first met at the Hotel 
Rossia in Moscow. Just knowing they 
were on the train made me feel incredi- 
bly wonderful for their joy and enthusi- 
asm was contagious and lasting. As the 
train rumbled along and I gazed at the 
unending brightness of the "white 
nights," I found at last a quiet moment to 
reflect on all that had been part of my 




Etel Billig (second from right) with Russian theatre friends. 




CeaoH 

8—1989 i 



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first twelve days in Russia. I sipped tea from a 
glass that was encased in a silver holder very 
much like the one I had grown up with - a tea 
glass holder left to us by my Russian grand- 
mother. During my entire stay in Russia, memo- 
ries of my childhood returned. Silly things like 
the words for pussycat and olives. And, yes, 
there were also the delicacies from the meals my 
mother cooked... again I tasted these special 
Russian foods and I forgot there was such a word 
as calories. 

In December of 1988 a protocol agreement was 
signed between the League of Chicago Theatres/ 
Chicago Theatre Foundation and The Union of 
Theatre Workers RSFSR (Russian Republic). This 
agreement called for a series of exchanges be- 
tween theatres in Chicago and those in Moscow 
and Leningrad. The agreement grew out of the 
mutual desire of theatre people in the Soviet 
Union and the United States to promote the 
consolidation of peace, relaxation of international 
tension, and the development of trust between 
the two countries. 

In June of 1989, after being chosen from over 100 
applicants, I left with the first official delegation 
of twelve to participate in this theatre exchange. I 
will always remember the rich theatrical images 
of this visit to the land of my ancestors. 

One of the many productions which moved me 
greatly was Bulgakov's MASTER AND MARGA- 



A theatre program from the Moscow Art Theatre. 



29 



RITA, A play forbidden until glasnost. The piece 
is so popular there were people begging for 
tickets to the special performance scheduled in 
honor of our delegation. Then to make the eve- 
ning more special, I was invited to the office of 
the great Lubimov where I ate cherries and 
apricots and had my hand kissed by Benjamin 
Smirkov, the actor who played the leading role of 
the Devil in the play. He pointed out to me the 
walls of the office... covered in graffiti, with 
messages from the likes of Warren Beatty, Arthur 
Miller, Paul Mann, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and a 
host of other world literary and theatre luminar- 
ies. 

Arthur Miller is much admired by the Soviets but 
it is Tennessee Williams who is the most popular, 
and whose plays are guaranteed to fill the houses 
even in the most remote provinces. Remember, 
going to the theatre is a way of life in the Soviet 
Union. From the smallest theatres to the largest 
at least 95% of the seats are filled at every per- 
formance. 

Incidental music accompanied most productions 
in a way quite different from anything that any 
of us had ever experiences. Music, in addition to 
the brilliant direction, acting and script of Bul- 
gakov's MOLIERE gave me great joy that I rarely 
experience in theatre. This play performed in a 
small dungeon-like space thrilled me beyond 
words. In the Russian tradition, I gave flowers to 
the leading player. At the end of most produc- 
tions, actors take many curtain calls and flowers 
are presented to the performers, male and female 
alike. Audience members of all ages 
would run on stage with lovely 
bouquets of carnations. 

I will never again see a red carna- 
tion and not think of my stay in 
Russia. It was my cousin, famed 
director Karma Ginkus, who met me 
at the airport with a bouquet of 
these flowers. It was carnations that 
filled the vases in my hotel rooms in 
Moscow and Leningrad and it was 
carnations that covered the grave of 
John Reed buried inside the Kremlin 
walls. 

My cousin Karma, so esteemed and 
so charming, took a small and 
sturdy group from our delegation 
on a five hour "white nights" walk- 
ing tour of Leningrad. We saw the 
brilliant iron grill work on the 
buildings, strolled through parks 
that were safe at any hour, saw the 
bridges rise to let through the tall 



ships and listened to my cousin's stories about 
Pushkin as we sat on the steps on Pushkin's 
home in this beautiful city of canals and rivers. 

I cannot tell you in words that will truly express 
the loving relationships I developed in this land I 
never thought I would see. The Union worker 
who found me treasures not available to most 
visitors, the guide at The Hermitage who took 
me on a private tour when the rest of our delega- 
tion grew too tired to continue seeing the great 
art treasures in this former winter palace. And so 
you can imagine how thrilling it was to have 
some of these new friends come to my theatre 
(Illinois Theatre Center) and to try to bring them 
some part of my life that would enrich theirs. 

My very last night in Russia was a quiet one, 
with a stroll in the cemetery where Dostoyevesky 
and Tchaikovsky were buried. And in the dis- 
tance as I placed carnations on their graves, I 
heard the night train from Moscow to Leningrad. 



Introduction to Nina Andreyeva 

As a child, Nina saw her home bombed amid the Siege 
of Leningrad before being evacuated with other 
starving children on the "Road of Life" across frozen 
Lake Ladoga. Nearly 650,000 people died of starva- 
tion, and 17,000 were killed in air raids by the Nazis. 
Later, with a degree in Education, Nina took a "hard- 
ship" teaching post in subartic Murmansk, where she 
stayed for fifteen years. Today she is the Deputy Chair 



Helen and Nina 




30 



of the Lenigrad Region Women 's Council and a 
professor of Education at the Teachers ' Training 
Institute in Leningrad. 

"The best treasures I have in life are my friends. " 

Nina 

Bio by Marylu Raushenbush 

"A Letter from Nina 

Andreyeva after her Month in the 

U.S.A." 

Leningrad, November 11, 1989 

Dear Helen! 

Two weeks have passed since I returned home 
from your country, tired but happy! And still I 
can't come to my senses after my month's travel- 
ing. I have had thirteen (!) homestays in different 
cities and towns. I could make my acquaintance 
with the nature, culture and history of the U.S.A. 
Through these homestays I could learn much 
about your everyday life, customs and traditions. 

I visited ten states, meeting with students of 
universities, colleges, and high schools, with 
professors and statesmen, school teachers and 
journalists, musicians, and even dairy farmers. I 
watched both positive and negative phenomena 
in your country. On the whole, I have had a 
wonderful journey and I enjoyed the U.S.A. very 
much. I couldn't help admiring the cozy and 
beautiful houses I stayed in, observing the do- 
mestic way of life, visiting the shops full of 
different kinds of goods, with freeways and clean 
streets in most of the cities (but New York). 

But the most important thing that I re- 
member — American people! Each of my 
hostesses was wonderful in her own way. 
I admired their hospitality, kindness and 
sincerity. Most of them are gracious and 
energetic. I think they do much for their 
country from the point of view of socially 
useful activities. All of them are "Women 
of Consequence." (reference to book of photo- 
graphs by Marylu Raushenbush,) I am sure 
we'll go on being friends for many years. I 
was so surprised and pleased with your 
quick decision to come to Marylu's home, 
and so happy that we could meet again. I 
feel myself a line that connected two 
creative women! 

Now I am all busy in my work again, with 
lectures at the Institute and solving 
women's problems in our regional 
women's council. 

I stood on the banks of the Neva one 



night, listening to the chime of the clock of Peter 
and Paul's fortress, and watched the raising and 
lowering of the bridges, thinking of my own lot, 
of love, and of loss. If you remember, I went 
through the greatest tragedy when my only son 
perished. And so I try to be busy as much as 
possible, not only with my teaching, but also 
with my social work in the women's committee. 

And with my thoughts I often return to your 
country. I wish you only success in all your 
affairs, with love and kisses, your 

Nina 



"Soviets, Meet Middle America" 
Mary Sue Penn 

We waited for the Soviets in an isolated narrow 
wing of the Art Institute, downstairs by its 
cafeteria. A tour of downtown Chicago was 
running behind and delaying three of the four 
Soviets and their assigned American compan- 
ions. The fourth had overslept that morning after 
a night out on the town and had missed the tour. 
He stood with the group of us ten or so Ameri- 
cans. 

Looking back, I realize I should have introduced 
myself to him. Foolishly instead, as if speaking to 
a child, I asked him what his name was. 
"David," he replied, straight-faced. No, what's 

Vladimir and Eugene 




31 



your real name, I inquired. "David," he said 
again, more forcefully, and then turned his 
attention to another questioning American. 

Small in stature with dark curly hair, the only 
way I knew he was a Soviet was that he was 
always surrounded by people asking him ques- 
tions. I later learned his Armenian name, Ashot 
Kachatrian. "David" fit just fine. 

The Soviets were staying with host families in 
the south suburbs. South Suburban SANE/ 
Freeze, working with the California-based Center 
for U.S.-U.S.S.R. Initiatives, had arranged for the 
Soviet visit - an effort called "Soviets, Meet 
Middle America." By the time the five-day 
November stay ended, the four citizens from 
across the ocean had met many "Middle Ameri- 
cans." But, more important, they also had found 
new friends. 

David's host, the Sanzo family, and the SANE/ 
Freeze coordinators saw to his every need, so 
much so that by the end of the visit, David was 
calling coordinator Eileen Newmark "Mom." 

Finally the other three Soviets arrived and the 
entourage was herded into the cafeteria for 
lunch. Evgeni Fedorov, called Gene, was a jour- 
nalist. He towered over us. He had long straight 
brown hair he was always whisking from his 
brow, a medium build and pleasing features. He 
chain-smoked and often looked off into the 
distance. He wore a sweater, jeans and black 
leather gym shoes. 

We volleyed questions and eventually kept up a 
rhythm of conversation. We found out he was 31, 
worked for a youth music magazine called 
Smena, which means "change," and had just 
published the first Soviet book on rock and roll. 
He had worked at Pravda, a prestigious position 
in the Soviet Union and one that served as a 
stepping stone to a job of choice. 

Through Smena he subscribed to Rolling Stones. 
That surprised the rest of us for some reason. 

We talked together as journalists, as young 
people and as individuals starved for informa- 
tion about one another. 

Eventually Gene gave us his business card and 
an invitation to visit him in Moscow. Time 
slipped away and regretfully, we dropped him 
off at his host family's house, to get ready for a 
community supper that night. 

At one point, over short glasses of beer at a 
journalists' haunt, Gene had proudly pulled out 
a picture of his wife, Irena. 

"She's very pretty," I had said, passing around 
the photo of a slender smiling woman with 



flowing long dark hair. Gene and Irena had met 
at a party. They had been married one year and 
lived together for five. They had no children. 
Irena does not work outside of being a home- 
maker. They live in Moscow, which Gene said 
was home to about 6 million people. 

Natalia Strejneva, another Moscovite, who stayed 
with the same host family as Gene, later told an 
American that Gene's wife did not work because 
she did not have to. Natalia, who has an 11-year- 
old daughter, works as a sales representative for 
Aeroflot. 

The South Suburbanites found it hardest to reach 
out to the fourth Soviet, Vladimir Lantuh, a 
Siberian eye surgeon, simply because the lan- 
guage barrier was the greatest. Vladimir seemed 
to know only one word - "yes." One woman, 
Pam Kish, said she thought, "Oh my God, what 
do I do now?" when unexpectedly she and her 
friend found themselves in care of Vladimir for 
the afternoon in downtown Chicago. But after 
pointing out the buildings that mark Chicago 
architecturally, the trio settled in at a pub, relax- 
ing in the atmosphere and in one another's 
company. 

Later that night hundreds of Middle Americans 
crammed into a brightly lit high school cafeteria 
to share a meal and meet the Soviets. Amid 
hand-made banners that make up the Peace 
Ribbon, gifts and gratitude were exchanged. 
Gene gave a speech, telling how easy it was to be 
with Americans, how he wished he could take 
everyone back to Moscow with him and of his 
desire for friendship between the Soviet and 
American people. The crowd gave him a stand- 
ing ovation. 

Americans seemed to warm immediately to 
Gene, who spoke the best English, and to Na- 
talia, who preferred to be called Natasha. 

They noticed her love of children, how at the 
high school potluck supper she cradled her hosts' 
little daughter on her lap. I noticed how careful 
she was to thank everyone after every event. 

When the celebration was over, I shook hands 
with and hugged Gene and said good-bye for 
now. We walked out into the cold night air 
feeling exhilarated and deeply satisfied. 



32 



SOUTH SUBURBAN SANE/FREEZE - 
SOVIETS, MEET MIDDLE AMERICA 

Soviet Bios for the 

Delegation of November 1-6, 1989 

Itinerary 

Washington, D.C. 

Aurora, Colorado 

Spearfish, South Dakota 

South Suburbs of Chicago 



NATALIA STREJNEVA, born in 1956, graduated from Moscow Pedagogical Institute, works 
at Aeroflot, the Soviet national airline and is married. 

ASHOT KACHATRIAN, born in 1964, was graduated from Yerevan University as a physi- 
cist, and is unmarried. He is a member of the Armenian branch of the International Com- 
putor Club and the English Club. 

VLADIMIR LANTUH, born in 1943, is a professor and director of the Novosibirsk branch of 
eye micro-surgery. He is married and had a son and a daughter. 

EVGENY FEDOROV, born in 1958, studied at Moscow Institute of International Relations. 
Evgeny works at the magazine SMENA as a correspondent for the literature and culture de- 
partment. He is author of the first Soviet-published book about Soviet rock stars. 

These four are part of a group of 400 Soviet citizens who came to the United States in 1989 as 
part of the citizen-to-citizen diplomacy project sponsored by the California-based Center for 
U.S./U.S.S.R. Initiatives. 




33 



SOFIA WISHKIND 



ARTIST'S STATEMENT 



I was born, raised and received my art education in Moscow. The two years of waiting for permis- 
sion to leave Russia were the years of the most painful nostalgia. Famihar streets, although I hadn't 
left were already not mine. Everything around me was full of reproach, "you are going away, leav- 
ing us to destruction . . ." 

In such a mood I made my series of drawings of Moscow. I was also planning to make a series of 
drawings of the city in which I will live in America. I was hoping to attract interest to my work with 
these two series. But the Soviet administration decided differently: I was not allowed to take my 
drawings of Moscow with me. I felt lost and depressed. 

Several years later my friends managed to smuggle my drawings out and sent them to me. 

But a wide gap developed in my artistic biography. It turned out that pessimistic, nostalgic emotions 
were a much stronger stimulus to create than the fight for existence in Chicago. Only eight years 
later I came back to art work. 

I raised a daughter who is an artist and I am hoping that my granddaughter, Hope, will be an artist 
also. 



mm? hVv - - 

8rr 




"Moscow 1980. House in Denisovsky Lane". Brown watercolor with pen on paper, 1980, Sofia Wishkind. 



34 



SOFIA WISHKIND 



Review by 
Ruth Aizuss Migdal 

Sofia Wishkind, born in 
1939 in Moscow, resolved to 
be an artist before she was 
nine. Her obvious talent 
allowed her to be a student 
in a high school art studio. 
The college at which she 
studied art from 1956 to 
1962 was the Moscow State 
Pedagogical Lenin Institute. 

The drawings reproduced 
here were among those 
made during the two years 
that she was forced to wait 
for applying for permission 
to leave the Soviet Union. 
These drawings were made 
on site, sitting in a car. 
When the police tried to 
stop her from drawing a 
military building, she re- 
fused to be intimidated, 
although as a Jew she had 
more reason than most to 
fear the police. She insisted 
that spies would take pho- 
tographs, not make draw- 
ings. The police kept return- 
ing with superior officers 
until finally a limousine 
pulled up. An official got 
out, looked at Sofia's draw- 
ings, and told the police to 
leave her alone. She has 

continued to draw despite difficulties, both here and in Russia. Supporting herself and her two daugh- 
ters has sapped much of her energy — a problem for many artists. The need to work that is a vital ele- 
ment in being an artist erupts in these drawings, powerful in their expressiveness. These farewell draw- 
ings of Moscow are poignant in their sensitivity to subtle changes and contrasts in these familiar streets. 
There is an intensity in her recording of detail; a passion in transmitting to paper all that she loved in 
these places which she would soon see no more. Her desire to remember gives her drawings a precision 
and honesty which cause them to make that quantum leap into art. The luxurious abundance of trees 
contrasts against the architectural severity of the crowded old buildings which housed tiny broken down 
apartments, shared by too many families. The church spires rising above the houses sound a note of 
spirituality and hope that promise survival whatever life brings. 

I look forward to Sofia's drawings of Chicago. Her record of what has been, after all, two separate lives, 
should be fascinating to see. I strongly suspect that she will bring the same directness of expression to 
her new work. 




"Moscow, Pokrovsky Boulevard". Grey and brown watercolor with pen on paper, 1980. 



35 



SOFIA WISHKIND 



I ^P &Sk 







"Moscow, Cityscape with Church of the Ascension 
(Vozneseniye) in Gorokhovoye Pole". Grey and brown 
watercolor with pen on paper, 1980. 



"Moscow, 1980, Serebrennichsky Lane with Trinity (Troitsa) Church" 
Blue and brown watercolor with pen on paper, 1980. 




36 



SOVIET WOMEN: A SELECTIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Barbara Conant 



Biryukova, Alexandra. 1981. Soviet Women: Their Role In Society ,The Economy, The Trade Unions. Moscow: Profizdat. 

Bridger, Susan. 1987. Women In The Soviet Countryside: Women's Roles In Rural Development In The USSR. New 
York: Cambridge University Press. 

Bronfenbrenner, Urie. 1970. Two Worlds Of Childhood: U.S. And U.S.S.R. New York: Simon and Schuster. 

Browning, Genia K. 1987. Women and Politics In The USSR: Consciousness Raising And Soviet Women's Groups. New 
York: St. Martin's Press. 

Buckley, Mary, editor. 1986. Soviet Social Scientists Talking: An Official Debate About Women. London: Macmillan. 

Clements, Barbara Evans. 1979. Bolshevik Feminist: The Life Of Aleksandra Kollontai. Bloomington, IN: Indiana 
University Press. 

Cracraft, James, editor. 1988. The Soviet Union Today: An Interpretive Guide. Chicago: The University of Chicago 
Press. 

Edmondson, Linda Harriet. 1984. Feminism In Russia, 1900-17 . Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 

Engel, Barbara Alpern. 1987. Five Sisters: Women Against The Tsar. Boston: Allen & Unwin. 

Engel, Barbara Alpern. 1983. Mothers And Daughters: Women Of The Intelligentsia In Nineteenth Century Russia. New 
York: Cambridge University Press. 

Farnsworth, Beatrice. 1980. Aleksandra Kollontai: Socialism, Feminism, And The Bolshevik Revolution. Stanford, CA: 
Stanford University Press. 

Fischer, Mary Ellen. "Women". Chap, in James Cracraft, ed. The Soviet Union Today: An Interpretive Guide. 2d ed. 
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988. 

Golomshtok, Igor. 1977. Unofficial Art From The Soviet Union. London: Seeker and Warburg. 

Goricheva, Tatiana. 1987. Talking About God Is Dangerous: The Diary Of A Russian Dissident. New York: Crossroad. 

Holland, Barbara, editor. 1985. Soviet Sisterhood. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 

Kupriyanova, Nina, compiler. 1987. Always A Woman: Stories By Women Writers. Moscow: Raduga Publishers. 

Lapidus, Gail Warshofsky. 1978. Women In Soviet Society: Equality, Development, And Social Change. Berkeley, CA: 
University of California Press. 

Lapidus, Gail Warshofsky. editor. 1982. Women, Work, And Family In The Soviet Union. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe. 
(This volume contains translations of Soviet articles on the above subjects.) 

Leahy, Margaret E. 1986. Development Strategies And The Status Of Women: A Comparative Study Of The United 
States, Mexico, The Soviet Union, And Cuba. Boulder, CO: L. Rienner Publishers. 

Lenin, V.I. 1934. The Emancipation of Women. New York: International. 

Mamonova, Tatyana. 1989. Russian Women's Studies: Essays On Sexism In Soviet Culture. New York: Pergamon 
Press. 

Mamonova, Tatyana, editor. 1984. Women And Russia: Feminist Writings From The Soviet Union. Boston: Beacon 
Press. 

Meyer, Donald B. 1987. Sex And Power: The Rise Of Women In America, Russia, Sweden, And Italy. Middletown, CT: 
Wesley an University Press. 

Rudenko, Inna Pavlovna. 1985. Remarkable Woman Of Our Time. Moscow: Novosti Press Agency Publishing 
House. 

Smith, Jessica. 1928. Women In Soviet Russia. New York: Vanguard. 

Stites, Richard. 1978. The Women's Liberation Movement In Russia: Feminism, Nihilism, And Bolshevism, 1860-1930. 
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 

Vishneva-Sarafanova, Natalia. 1981. Soviet Women, A Portrait. Moscow: Progress Publishers. 

Vishneva-Sarafanova, Natalia. 1983. Soviet Women's World: The United Nations Decade For Women, 1976-1985. 
Moscow: Novosti Press Agency Publ. House, 1983. 

Voznesenskaya, Julia. 1986. The Women's Decameron. New York: Quartet. 

Women And Russia: First Feminist Samizdat. 1980. London: Sheba Feminist Publishers. 

37 





BOOK RE VIE W 





THE WOMEN'S DECAMERON 



Julia Voznesenskaya 

An Owl Book (Henry Holt and Company) 1987 

Reviewed by Mary Sidney 

Italy, 1348. The Black Death is ravaging Europe. 
To escape the plague, ten young Florentine 
aristocrats flee the city and take refuge in a 
country villa. To amuse themselves during their 
confinement, they enjoy the gardens, dine well, 
dance, and tell stories. Over a ten-day period, 
each one tells a tale a day — hence the title of 
Boccaccio's Decameron. Tales of lost love, re- 
quited love, scandal in the lives of the high and 
low, this famous book can surprise the modern 
reader with its descriptions of a licentious clergy, 
coarse and cruel behavior alternating with refine- 
ment, the delight in the bawdy, the high spirits 
and rowdiness. 

It was, of course, the 14th century, and the 
subservience of women went unrecognized and 
unchallenged. Indeed, one of Boccaccio's young 
women herself describes her sex as fickle, stub- 
born, suspicious, cowardly, and timorous and 
therefore in need of male guidance. Conse- 
quently, the seven young women ask three 
young men to accompany them. 

Some time in the 1970s — the reader cannot be 
sure of the time — ten Leningrad women, newly 
delivered of babies, find themselves quarantined 
in a local maternity hospital. They have a skin 
rash — no serious plague — that demands their 
temporary isolation. One, a theater director 
planning a dramatization of The Decameron, sug- 
gests that each of them tell a daily story for the 
next ten days — hence Julia Voznesenskaya's The 
Women's Decameron. Like Boccaccio's Florentine, 
they agree on a subject for each day, for example, 
first love, bitchiness, revenge, rapists, good 
deeds, happiness, and so on. The women talk 
frankly and artlessly, with the exception of the 
more guarded party official and one or two 
reticent women. Towards the end, however, they 
have all loosened up. 

There are no aristocrats here. All are employed, 
some with more prestigious jobs than others. 
One is a theater director, another a "bigwig" in 
the Communist Party; there are also a biologist, 
an engineer, a music teacher, a secretary, a 
shipyard worker, an airflight hostess, a "woman 




of no fixed abode," and a dissident married to a 
political prisoner. Several are unmarried by 
choice, and one or two are mothers only half- 
intentionally. 

A century after its publication, Boccaccio's book 
was condemned by the Church and publicly 
burned; what the fate of Julia Voznesenskaya's 
book will be — or is — in Gorbachev's Soviet 
Union is unknown. Her women talk candidly, 
not only about their own lives, but also about life 
in their country. And what an unflattering pic- 
ture it is: a meddling, all-powerful bureaucracy, a 
lack of consumer goods, a housing shortage, a 
network of prisons — the grim realities of daily 
life. 

Now, in their temporary isolation, the women 
have escaped, not the Black Death of the 14th 
century, but their own two plagues: the state and 
their own men. About men: only two or three 
women describe themselves as completely happy 
and enthusiastic about their husbands, though 
marriage is considered by most of them a natural 
and desirable state. Drunkenness and physical 
violence are the usual complaints. They also 
lament faithlessness, the double standard, boor- 



38 



ish manners, and general misogyny. The much 
loved and admired men are dissidents or humble 
men who have not fared well in life. Zina the 
tramp wonders if there exists anywhere a 
woman who has not been raped, or at least had 
an attempt made on her. Voznesenskaya's ten 
women have been raped, or almost raped. The 
airflight hostess tells a horrifying story of child- 
hood sexual abuse from which she has not 
recovered. 

The other enemy is the state. But these women 
are not disloyal citizens, they are merely honest. 
They are not deceived by the Party's boastful, 
untrue claims about itself. First hand, they have 
seen official corruption and unfair employment 
practices; they are the victims of laws almost 
completely destroying privacy; they stand in 
long lines after a day's work to purchase almost 
anything; they endure a housing shortage be- 
yond belief. 

Indeed, the lack of housing and the consequent 
lack of privacy is perhaps the most striking 
feature of their lives. No one has enough space, 
physical or emotional. The lucky live in tiny flats 
for which they have waited years. One of their 
story-telling days is devoted to tales of "Love in 
Farcical Situations" — for example, a newly 
married couple who have nowhere to go to 
consummate their marriage (they eventually find 
a secluded rooftop); couples with a mother-in- 
law living in the same one room, sleeping with 
only a bookcase or curtain to separate them. In 
such rooms and communal kitchens, jealousies 
and resentments arise, grow and fester, and 
erupt into violence. 

And hanging over all is fear of the State, the 
militia, the police, the KGB. Galina the dissident 
has a husband in a political prison for some sort 
of crime; she herself is suspect for having become 
a Christian. Zina the tramp has not been a politi- 
cal prisoner but has been imprisoned for unspeci- 
fied minor criminal offenses. Her tales are often 
about prison life — dreadful tales of hunger, filth, 
and brutality. 

Yet, in spite of their problems, these women are 
lively, cheerful, and brave. They work hard at 
their jobs, stand in long lines to buy food, live in 
one or two rooms with in-laws, bring up children 
there, go to parties, fall in and out of love, marry, 
divorce, scheme to outwit the authorities and 
sometimes win, type underground poetry, make 
difficult journeys to visit prisoners, and yearn for 
Western cosmetics and plastic baby pants for 
their infants. Finally, on the tenth day, they tell 
touching stories of what it is to be happy: tiny 



events, small gestures indicating love and loy- 
alty. Small but how crucial! 

A subtitle identifies this book as a "novel." A 
novel? A collection of tales, anecdotes, and case 
histories seems to me a more accurate descrip- 
tion. But whatever it is, read it. The translation 
by R. W. Linton is, I trust, what the original is 
like, colloquial and slangy, the disarmingly plain 
speech of ten honest women. A few notes to 
identify actual people, places and terms would 
be appreciated. For example, one would like to 
know more about the word "zek" (prisoner) and 
the 13th pay packet. 



Mary Sidney teaches English composition at the University 
of Illinois at Chicago. 



Contacting 
Soviet Citizens 

If you've ever wondered how 
you can contact a Soviet citizen, if 
you've ever wanted to correspond 
with someone in the USSR, if 
you've ever wanted to know how 
to arrange business exchanges 
with the USSR, help is now 
within reach. The Clearinghouse 
for Citizen Diplomacy has pub- 
lished a book entitled Citizen Di- 
plomacy — Progress Report 1989: 
The USSR. Compiled and edited 
by Sandy McCune Jeffrey, the 
book describes the more than 350 
projects identified or developed 
through the last Soviet-American 
Citizens Summit. A system of 
cross-references and key-word 
designations makes it easy to find 
the appropriate organization and 
contact. 

The book is available from: 
Clearinghouse for Citizen Diplo- 
macy, P.O. Box 3594, Boulder, 
CO 80307. Price: $14.95 (plus 
postage: $2.50 per copy). Call 
(303) 494-0327 for information. 



39 





BOOK REVIE W 





FIVE SISTERS, WOMEN AGAINST 
THE TSAR ^m—mnmemmua—mm 



Edited and translated from Russian by Barbara 
Alpern Engel and Clifford N. Rosenthal; Allen 
& Unwin, Inc., Winchester, MA; 1975 & 1987 



Reviewed by Margaret Matchett 



In 1861 Tsar Alexander II grudgingly approved 
the emancipation of the serfs, ending centuries of 
bondage for the more than twenty million peas- 
ants of Russia. The act, however, was not accom- 
panied by adequate provisions for land distribu- 
tion, and the condition of the serfs remained 
wretched. Russia remained, moreover, an autoc- 
racy in which dissent was vigorously repressed. 




Vera Figner 



The 1860's, and, still more, the 1870's saw wide- 
spread movement to bring about far more drastic 
change. Some remarkable women played signifi- 
cant parts in this movement. Five Sisters is made 
up of excerpts from the memoirs of five of these 
women. Dedicated revolutionaries in a harsh and 
brutal state, theirs was a world of false identity 
papers, dependence on a network of sympathiz- 
ers, and the overarching threat of betrayal fol- 
lowed by imprisonment or exile to Siberia. Vera 
Figner, one of the "five sisters," describes their 
hopes and fears: 

Despite our absolute certainty of the 
masses' revolutionary mood and readiness 
to act, despite our belief in the proximity of 
a social revolution and in its ultimate 




Vera Zasulich 



victory over the entire existing order, we 
made a strange distinction between our 
own fates and the radiant prospects of the 
revolution. About ourselves, we were 
always pessimistic: we would all perish; 
they would persecute us, lock us up, send 
us into exile and hard labor (we didn't even 
think about capital punishment then!). 

Some of these five women, and others like them, 
took part in the operation of underground print- 
ing presses or in the distribution of their output. 
Some went "to the people," entering into the 
hard living conditions of factory laborers and 
peasants in order to teach and organize. 

As the 1 870s drew to a close, the revolutionary 
movement divided. One group continued to seek 
reforms through education, propaganda, and 
organization. Another, despairing of the effec- 
tiveness of non-violent means in the police state 
of Alexander II, turned to what they saw as their 
only weapons — terrorism and assassination. Only 
one of the "five sisters," Elizaveta Kovalskaia, 
completely renounced terror in favor of a more 
Fabian approach. One of the five, Vera Zasulich, 
describes her assassination of General Trepov, 
the governor of St. Petersburg, in retaliation for 
the brutal beating of a political prisoner. Two of 
the five were directly involved in the assassina- 
tion of Alexander II, the culminating event of this 
tumultuous period. 

For the extremists, the assassination was more 
than an act of simple retaliation. They believed 
that the tsar's death would galvanize the Russian 
peasants and lead to a general uprising. Their 
hopes were vain. The leaders of the movement 
were sentenced to long imprisonment or execu- 
tion, and strong repression effectively dispersed 
the revolutionaries for a generation. 



40 



Five Sisters requires and rewards careful read- 
ing. Some figures, men as well as women, appear 
in more than one memoir. Notable among them 
is Sofia Perovskaia, executed for her role in coor- 
dinating the assassination of the tsar. Though the 
memoirs are accounts of individuals, they also 
provide a kaleidoscopic view of people, events, 
and ideological struggles. 

The memoirs of Five Sisters cover the period up 
to 1881. Brief summaries supply tantalizing bits 
of information about the later lives of the five 
women, all of whom lived into the twentieth 
century and saw the eventual overthrow of the 
tsar. 

All the memoirs were written long after the 
events described here. They sometimes have the 
ring of political testaments rather than personal 
ones; we are told, for example, of a marriage or 
divorce but nothing of the circumstances. The life 
of the revolutionary precluded family attach- 
ments. We sense, however, the warmth of com- 
radeship among the revolutionaries. Only one of 
the five women had a child. Her account of 
leaving it behind, so that she could make an 
attempt — unsuccessful — to free its father from 
prison, is one of the most affecting passages of 
the book. 




Elizaveta Kovalskaia 



It is startling to realize how young these women 
were; all were in their late twenties or early 
thirties in 1881. Though their origins were very 
dissimilar, the five women were alike in that 
they sought out eagerly, in Zurich or St. Peters- 
burg, the rare educational opportunities open to 
women. Each began as an enthusiastic feminist. 
One would like to understand better the deci- 
sions that they made and the courses that they 
followed from idealistic young students to totally 
committed revolutionaries. How, in a society 



where women were subservient by law and 
custom, did they achieve autonomy and fill 
valued positions within the revolutionary move- 
ment? The editors, in their introduction, suggest 
a partial explanation: 

[It was] the fact that feminism had been a 
major concern of Russian radicals for a 
number of years — that women had been 
able to develop their ideas, build sister- 
hood, and act politically before joining a 
mixed revolutionary movement; and that 
the populist movement, in turn, had been 
sensitized to the importance of egalitarian 
relations among comrades. These condi- 
tions alone, however, do not explain the 
reverence that the women of the seventies 
inspired both among their male comrades 
and among educated Russian society at 
large. ...They possessed a passionate and 
lucid moral vision which neither exile, 
imprisonment, nor imminent death could 
destroy. 

They came of age in Russia when want and 
oppression were widespread; their experiences 
fed their anger. They were part of an intellectual 
climate that nourished the idealism of youth, a 
climate of rosy hopes for humanity. They were 
daughters, as is each woman, of a particular 
time, and no explanation of their strength is com- 
plete unless it invokes an understanding of their 
time. 

One who reads Five Sisters may ask whether the 
anger of the memoirists was excessive and 
whether their hope was misplaced. One may 
ponder the distinction between heroism and fa- 
naticism. The reader may wish it were possible 
to know the five women better, to attain a kind 
of intimate insight which the book does not 
provide. 

Whatever questions or reservations remain, 
however, Five Sisters is an enthralling account of 
women of epic stature in a time of crisis. 



Margaret Matchett taught mathematics for many years at the 
Laboratory Schools of the University of Chicago. She has 
traveled extensively in the Soviet Union. 



41 





LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 





%en and (Penny %eyes 

9(en %eyes College 

TOO Commercial Avenue 

Coos Way, Oil 97420 



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CK^v*. AST rV- 0~0 — <4^ 



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Love Is (More Important Than Anything TLise 



This issue of 

The Creative Woman 

was printed on 

recycled paper 



v 




press gang publishers 



603 Powell Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6A 1H2 

Thank you for your recent review of the book Daughters of Copper Woman by Anne Cameron. Please note 
that this book is readily available in the US. Bookstores are able to order copies through several US 
distributors including: Bookpeople, Inland Book Company, Pacific Pipeline, The Distributors, New Leaf 
Distributing Co., and Moving Books. Daughters of Copper Woman has been widely adopted for course use 
in areas as diverse as Women's Studies, Sociology, Religion /Mythology, and Anthropology. 

Good luck with the continued success of your publication; we will share our copy with friends and 
watch for future editions. 

Best regards, 

Val Speidel 



42 





LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 





On the Photography Issue: 



I know that one of Pat Gardner's concerns was editing an issue and writing on women photogra- 
phers in such a way as to have universal interest to those outside the medium. To that extent I 
found the opening piece and her introduction to have accomplished those goals and also somewhat 
revealing in that many suspected stereotypes were put at least to question if not to rest. Pat 
touched on many of the non-public reasons why these photographs were made and gave insight 
into the inner motivational reasons for their creation. Having personally known two of the women 
in her historical perspective, I would safely say they would have been pleased. 

The other comment on the issue was Pat's refrain from being heavy handed as an editor. The 
compilation of work, the real cross-section of selections, and the idea to not interpret artist state- 
ments but to use them as authored showed the broad range of subject matter and perspectives that 
women have contributed to this field. Response from colleagues in the field about the issue have 
been quite favorable from both sexes, and I personally believe that Patricia did an excellent job. 

As an interesting aside to all this, twenty years ago women represented about 5% of photography 
students. Some figures now give that percentage at over 70%. 

Paul Schranz 

Professor of Photography 

Governors State University 



NOT THAT ONE! NOT THAT ONE! 

Our friend Nina wants to make it clear that she is not the famous - or infamous - hard-line 

critic of perestroika, who has the same name. 

A doctrine 
under attack: 

"Commentators 
who attack Stalin 
are in fact aiming 
their attacks at 
Lenin and at the 
whole cause of 
socialism. 




yy 



This is not our Nina! 



NINA A. ANDREYEVA 

Teacher, Soviet Union 



43 



ANNOUNCEMENTS 



extra! mm 

Read All About It! 



Literary Gazette International 



Soon SOVIET LIFE readers will 
be able to subscribe to Literary 
Gazette International — an Eng- 
lish variant of the popular 
Literatumaya gazeta. SOVIET 
LIFE correspondent Irina Bogat 
interviews Yuri lzyumov, first deputy 
editor in chief of Literatumaya gazeta. 

Q: In October 1986 we profiled 
Literatumaya gazeta. Bring us up to 
date. What's new? Soviet and foreign 
newspapers and magazines report 
that Literaturka — our popular name 
for the gazeta — will be published in 
English in America and called Literary 
Gazette International. How did Literary 
Gazette International, or LGl, get 
started, and where is it going? 
A: Much has changed since that arti- 
cle. We've grown, and the demand 
for our brand of journalism has ex- 
panded. We continue to challenge our 
readers with our commentaries on na- 
tional and world events. LGl will offer 
English-speaking readers something 
they can't find in the Western press. 

In the past two years we've become 
famous for our investigative reporting 
and critical assessments of what's go- 
ing on in the nation. Our Russian- 
language version is regularly quoted 
abroad. So we thought an English- 
language version would be interesting 
and helpful to readers throughout the 
world who might not speak Russian. 
We're starting this project in the 
United States. 

Our pilot English-language issue, 
which came out during the 1987 
Gorbachev-Reagan summit, aroused a 
lot of interest in the United States. We 
already have 100,000 foreign sub- 
scribers, many in the United States, to 
our Russian version, which now 
reaches 6.5 million Soviet readers. 



Yes, we've gotten even better since 
SOVIET LIFE'S October 1986 portrait. 

Q: In the competitive Western press 
what can Literary Gazette International 
offer that's so unusual? 
A: LGl will be unique. We're gearing 
it to thoughtful readers who want to 
find a way to understand Soviet and 
world events. Americans will have an 
opportunity to read about what's 
really happening in the USSR first- 
hand. Right now we're one of the few 
Soviet journals that has the access to 
offer LGl readers an inside look at the 
USSR, its people, government, and 
leaders. You know, it's one thing to 
read about the Soviet press. It's quite 
another to actually read the Soviet 
press, written by Soviets for Soviets, 
in English. Clearly there is a void in 
the Western market for this type of 
information. 

LG/'s major task is to offer a 
thoughtful perspective on issues of 
our time at home and abroad. To do 
this, LGl will include not only news 
items from the USSR but also issues 
of importance in the United States 
and other countries written by LGl 
journalists there. To do this, we cre- 
ated a joint venture partnership be- 
tween Literatumaya gazeta and the 
American business community — in- 
cluding Western journalists. 

Q: In the USSR you've been consid- 
ered the herald of perestroika. How 
did this happen? Don't you think that 
your voice has become more moder- 
ate lately? 

A: Since 1929 we've been giving 
readers provocative and even humor- 
ous insights into domestic and world 
events. Our philosophy of intellectual 
honesty has come of age in the era of 



perestroika. LGl will help us to draw 
that world community closer together. 
Sometimes this calls for moderation. 
At other times incisive criticism is ap- 
propriate. Our recent article on the 
KGB was hardly "moderate." LGl 
English readers won't have to wait 
until the Western press gets around to 
translating and analyzing our article 
on the KGB. Subscribers will have it 
firsthand in LGl. Linking Western 
readers in all English-speaking coun- 
tries through LGl will bring even 
greater significance to our news anal- 
ysis and commentary. We have al- 
ways challenged our society to 
achieve new levels of intellectual curi- 
osity by attacking a lack of ideals, in- 
difference, crime, corruption, red tape, 
and bureaucracy. Americans and So- 
viets share these concerns — Ameri- 
cans have their own brand of red 
tape. So we thought America would 
be a good place to start. 

Together, Soviet and American 
people will champion ideals of honor, 
human dignity, and democratic ideals 
in LGl to make our nations stronger. 
This is a big job. We can only achieve 
it through a thoughtful exchange of 
ideas — our major objective for Liter- 
ary Gazette International. The United 
States is the first stage of our plan to 
publish throughout the English- 
speaking world. We hope that Ameri- 
cans will support this effort through 
their subscriptions — special rates are 
now in effect — and by a commitment 
to this powerful objective to create a 
forum for change through intellectual 
exchange in Literary Gazette Interna- 
tional. For further information contact: 
Literary Gazette International, 1520 
New Hampshire Avenue, N.W., 
Washington, D.C. 20036, or tele- 
phone (202) 483-0400. ■ 



44 





EDITOR'S COLUMN 






In her introduction, Sharon 
Tennison has described the 
history of women in the 
Soviet Union, and placed the 
present in the perspective of 
a tragic past. Readers who 
want to continue this line of 
study might well begin with 
Mary Ellen Fischer's chapter 
on "Women" in James Cracraft's The Soviet Union 
Today. (See bibliography on page 37.) According 
to Fischer, the life of women in pre-Revolution- 
ary Czarist Russia was execrable, characterized 
by patriarchal, sexual oppression, one in which 
upper-class women in some ways fared worse 
than did peasant women since they could be 
completely segregated. 

While Lenin emphasized women's liberation, he 
held that the political revolution had to come 
first, the destruction of the old regime, followed 
inevitably by the end of oppression based on 
class or sex. Among Lenin's circle were his wife 
Nadezhda Krupskaya, Rosa Luxemburg and Al- 
exandra Kollantai, all brilliant and powerful 
women who were revolutionary comrades in 
every sense of the word. In that period, filled 
with bursts of creative energy in the arts (in film 
- Eisenstein; in painting - Chagall and 
Kandinsky; in music - Prokofiev and Shostakov- 
ich), women shared the egalitarian ideas and 
ideals that were fundamental to a Marxist hu- 
manism. So - what happened? 

The Zhenotdel (Women's Department), formed 
especially to encourage women's participation in 
the new socialist society, was condemned for 
"feminist deviationism." The most outspoken 
feminist, Kollantai, was banished as ambassador 
to Norway. By 1928 feminism had been declared 
anti-Marxist, an attempt to subvert the class 
struggle. The first disillusionment, the first 
crackdown, the first sentencing of women to the 
gulag occurred in the twenties. The communal 
kitchens and child care that were to have freed 
women from domestic drudgery were deemed 
too expensive. 

But the feminist spirit of Soviet women survived 
in their poets like Akhmatova and erupted again 
in the seventies, with the publication of the first 
samizdat (underground paper) Almanakh: Women 
of Russia. Five women who wrote and published 
Almanakh were arrested and expelled in 1980 and 
flown to Vienna. One of them was forced to 



leave behind her young son. We at TCW imme- 
diately obtained a copy of and printed Tatiana 
Mamonova's poignant short poem, "Preamble" 
which introduced their publication, and we 
published it in Russian, French, German, Span- 
ish, Hindi, Arabic and Chinese, as well as Eng- 
lish! 

Here it is in English, as translated from the 
Russian by Suzanne Prescott: (Winter 1981, Vol. 
4, No. 3) 

Preamble 

How was this born? 

In suffering 

As a person is born! 

How did this become beautiful? 

Through sorrow 

Like the face of a person. 

How did I arrive at this? 

Barefooted 

As one comes to a beloved city. 

How did I find this? 

With difficulty 

As one finds friends, 

As I found you, 

The readers of these lines! 



At least two of these women since published 
their work in the West: Julia Voznesenskaya's 
The Women's Decameron (see review by Mary 
Sidney, page 38) and Mamonova's books on 
feminist studies and women's studies in the 
Soviet Union. 

Why in so many languages? And why have we 
printed the poetry of Anna Akhmatova and 
Larissa Vasilyeva in Russian originals as well as 
in English translations? As our friend, Edward 
Wasiolek has asserted, "Poetry cannot be trans- 
lated. One can translate concepts, situations, 
actions, and some dialogue. One can't translate 
sound, rhythm, intonation, syntax, grammar, 
images; that is, one can't translate the very 
essence of poetry. The Italians are right when 
they say 'traduttore-traditore' ('a translator is a 
traitor')." Nevertheless Professor Wasiolek, 
despite all his misgivings, generously gave us a 
translation of Vasilyeva's "Voice of Love" in free 
verse. He was much taken by her poetry, calling 



45 



it "first rate: precise, uncluttered, lyrical, and 
intense." 

We must have translations! How else can we 




Alia beliakova, Leningrad, "I adore Kollantai!" 

ever understand one another? 

When I interviewed Alia Beliakova, a journalist 
for APN (equivalent of our AP) we had to have a 
translator. When I asked her about the early 
women revolutionaries, she exclaimed "I adore 
Kollantai!" and spoke at length with great anima- 
tion to Valentina, our translator-guide. I snapped 
her picture, but I wish I had understood her 
voluble Russian. Soviet educators have far sur- 
passed us in the teaching of languages. In far-off 
Uzbekistan, in the city of Tashkent, three teen- 
age girls of the English Club came with me to my 
hotel, to look at my magazine, to discuss what 
they might write for us. One is interested in 
Lorca (Do we publish Spanish?) another is ex- 
cited by Shakespeare. How many remote sections 
of the United States could provide a roomful of 
Russian-speaking high school students? The 
question answers itself. But one finds English 
speakers in all parts of the Soviet Union. In fact, 

The Three Helens of the English Club of Tashkent. 




many who addressed us through interpreters 
really understood English quite well, as they 
occasionally corrected the English of their inter- 
preters! 

On my visit to the USSR, I was surprised at how 
readily (shamelessly) men felt free to ridicule 
women. Why aren't there more women manag- 
ers? "Women are too emotional to run organiza- 
tions." "Women don't want to work that hard." 
"Men won't work for a woman." "Home and 
children are more important to them." With a 
chuckle, more than one gentleman told me that 
women already had too much power — they 
bossed everyone. 

From a tragic past of hardship and oppression; 
revolution followed by tyranny and disillusin- 
ment; to the present crisis and its exhilarating 
mixture of danger and hope. Where next? What 
are the prospects for the success of perestroika? 
According to James Cracraft, part-time resident 
Kremlinologist, there are certain enduring 
strengths to the Soviet Union, stretching across 
eleven time zones. Its great size alone, the integ- 
rity of such a large land mass, provides strength; 
even if it were shorn of the other fourteen repub- 
lics where there is now so much unrest, Russia 
would still the largest nation in the world. Natu- 
ral resources are so plentiful that it can be self- 
sufficient. The population is educated, with a 
literacy rate of 90%. And the Russian nationality 
is coherent, potent, unified, with a sense of its 
nationhood. In this picture, women have special 
attributes: they have always been less likely to 
turn in their friends, maintaining some decency 
in human relations; they suffer less from alcohol- 
ism; they are more culturally alive, interested 
and concerned, more educated, more in atten- 
dance at concerts and museums. Cracraft advises 
us to view the newly restructuring Soviet Union 
as less of a threat, and more of a challenge, the 
Great Experiment of the late twentieth and early 
twenty-first centuries, "upon whose success the 
fate of the world may depend." 

A special issue on this topic would not be com- 
plete without recognition of the remarkable first 
lady Raisa Maximovna. From all accounts, she is 
a full partner to Mikhail Sergeyevich, his intellec- 
tual peer, sharing with him this historic moment 
in a marriage of equality, a role model for the 
present, a promise for the future. 

HEH 



46 



The followi 

Vol. 1, No. 4 
Vol. 2, No. 4 
Vol. 3, No. 2 
Vol. 3, No. 3 
Vol. 4, No. 1 
Vol. 4, No. 2 
Vol. 4, No. 4 
Vol. 5, No. 2 
Vol. 6, No. 2 
Vol. 6, No. 3 
Vol. 6, No. 4 
Vol. 7, No. 1 
Vol. 7, No. 2 
Vol. 7, No. 4 
Vol. 8, No. 1 
Vol. 8, No. 2 
Vol. 8, No. 3 
Vol. 8, No. 4 
Vol. 9, No. 1 
Vol. 9, No. 2 

Vol. 9, No. 3 
Vol. 9, No. 4 
Vol.10, No. 1 

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